I can’t really remember the first time I played video games, but it was in an arcade somewhere. (There aren’t many arcades anymore, since console games seem to have forced most out of business.) I do remember begging for quarters from my parents, and being repeatedly told no, until they relented with 2 or 4 bits, probably just to shut me up. Those few seconds I spent blowing up alien spacecraft, or gunning down evil terrorists, opened up a whole new world of imagination and possibilities to me. Here was something that I had total control over. Too bad it couldn’t last.
Since then, I’ve maintained an interest in the gaming world. From the Atari 2600, to my cousin’s 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (with light gun!), through the Sega Genesis, Super NES, and Playstation, all the way to the Sega Saturn, X Box, and today’s crop of Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii – I’ve always kept track of the latest and greatest technology out there, even if I can’t afford to own any of it. I’ve seen the industry grow as technology has improved, despite horrible Hollywood movies based on video games (remember Super Mario Brothers with Bob Hoskins as our favourite red-overalled plumber? Or how about Street Fighter, with the late, great, Raul Julia unfortunately miscast as M. Bison?).
Now, gamers have numerous consoles to choose from, and hundreds of titles to while away the hours. If you don’t have one already, which would you choose to own? X Box 360? Playstation 3? Nintendo Wii? I haven’t owned a system since the Super NES, but I tell you right now that the Wii is the only system worth owning. Sure, it’s not the most powerful, nor does it have a huge library of games (yet). But it is by far the most innovative console in the past 20 years.
Technology has finally reached the point where an interactive gaming experience which involves more than your fingers and thumbs is possible. With the Wii, people have the opportunity to try and learn real games (think Wii Sports) that they never before had the chance or inclination to play. I’ve heard people say that they actually get a workout while playing a game – that’s not something you can say with any other game system. People I know who would normally never play video games, now say that they love the Wii. To me, this harks the arrival of new opportunities for the design and future of gaming.