In an email inviting me and my Filipino workmates to a birthday party last Saturday, one standout item on the itinerary was a few hours of "Wii". I overheard many asking each another What's Wii?, and the reply came that it's Nintendo's game console, their version of the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. *wince*
Of course as a lifelong Nintendo fan I know all about Wii, and plan to get myself one for Christmas or sooner. It has dominated its competitors worldwide in sales and headlines since it was released last year, but for reasons that are beyond me our Philippine mainstream public seems so far more in tune with Sony and Microsoft's consoles.
What sets Wii apart from its predecessors (and competitors) is the Wii remote. Nintendo's controller is a motion-sensing wand that looks more like a television remote than the typical button laden gamepad. To swing a sword, you swing the remote; in a game of tennis, you hold the remote like a racket. It reinvents gaming, making it more immersive, intuitive, and social.
So anyway at some point after dinner at the party last Saturday, a couple of people had snuck away from the karaoke-singing crowd to go upstairs. I followed them and found a group already engaged in a game of tennis, one of the five simple sports games included in the Wii's pack-in game. Within a few minutes we've gathered a crowd, and a short while after that most of the party was packed into the room, enjoying and laughing and taking turns at the remote. Gamers and non-gamers, male and female, all were at a level playing field, and were equally as immersed in the game. On how many occasions since the 1980s has video games gathered people so effortlessly?
By the time we packed up and finally went home at midnight, I had lost track of how many people had been introduced to the Wii and made up their minds to get one that very night.