A Sign of Things To Come

“What people want are simpler, more accessible games that are easier to play and solve”–Iwata, 2003

You probably had no idea of what Iwata meant at the time. None of us could. Who could predict the DS, the Wii–who could tell that Nintendo would shift their core values so dramatically from one generation to the next? After all, most of us consider ourselves ‘gamers,’ and why do we care if our entertainment of choice is grandma-friendly? And even now, I know that it is a common sentiment amongst the gaming community to resent the new approach that companies like Nintendo are taking. Why should development time be devoted to titles like Nintendogs and Wii Sports resort when we can have ‘core’ titles like Kid Icarus and Golden Sun?

Still, this accessibility approach that Nintendo products uphold isn’t a random phenomena. Not at all. In fact, let me put my marketing glasses on right now and say that this is a paradigm shift that is taking place across all technological mediums.

Technology used to be a place of privilege: people who owned things like cell phones and computers, for example, had to not only be extremely tech-savvy, but also financially well-off. This has created a tech culture which prides itself in challenge: the more powerful and complicated as you can get tech, and the more satisfaction you can derive from mastering its potential. This is one of the key sentiments that is behind the Mac and PC wars: PC users pride themselves in their ability to master the intricacies of their OS, and do not see why Mac users cannot simply learn how to use the ‘better’ OS. ‘Viruses aren’t a problem if you actually use your head’. Not particularly inclusive, to say the least.

Let’s talk about Apple for a bit, let’s take a look at their newest product: the iPad. Initially, I had many reservations about the iPad. It’s not very powerful, it doesn’t have much memory, it doesn’t have a keyboard…so on, so forth. Having used one extensively for the past couple of weeks, it all became clear to me: this is it. Right here. This is the future.

Does it sound ridiculous? It is. But its the truth.

You see, what the iPad does is what every single other technological advancement in the way of computers has failed to do: it is inclusive. You do not have to know much about computers to start using it, and for such a sexy piece of hardware, it’s somewhat cheap, too. You just use your intuition because things work in the way you’d think they’d work. Swipe here to go to the next page. Want to go into that link? Why, you just have to touch it. Your common sense and fingertips are the only thing that are required to fully enjoy the experience, and the hardware fully accommodates those basic requirements. No keyboard or mouse required.

To give you an example of what I mean, let me pose this situation to you: in any given field, your already established knowledge of the trade should be enough to use the software and the hardware that is used in that field. The software is not good enough if it requires you to know more than outside your area of expertise. Of course, very little software and hardware are actually designed to follow this mantra. But we know it’s possible–just look at Wii Sports. You know how baseball works: you need to swing a bat to hit the ball. Guess what, you don’t need to know any additional information to play Wii Baseball. It just works in the way you’d think it works.

That being said, the gaming industry seems to be taking the inclusive approach to heart. Kinect requires no controllers. The 3DS requires no glasses. Hardware is getting out of the way, and in doing so, companies are hoping that the everyday man can dive straight into their entertainment experience.The next step would be to convince the world that hardware like Kinect should be the staple of the living room. That might be the biggest hurdle of them all.

For those of you that bemoan over the loss of the hardcore gamer focus, today Nintendo showed us that we can have the best of both worlds.