August Omnitopic: Simplicity

August is the most venerable month, the wisest of months. The wisest among us are often the simplest, so simplicity will be our omnitopic for the coming twenty odd days.

Okay, that was bullshit. We picked it because it’s important.

The Nintendo Wii first launched in 2006 (five years ago!), and simplicity became a running theme in gaming discussions. The Wii was the “simple” console, the “casual” console, because it didn’t have a lot of buttons and you could play a lot of its games by waving your arms around like a chicken. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, by comparison, were “gamer’s” consoles, with loads of buttons, complicated controls, and a higher barrier for entry. The Wii sold like sliced bread in sandwich season, and the other console companies tried to jump on the bandwagon.

And now we have Nintendo releasing a console that’s so complicated I still don’t rightly know what the crap it is. I don’t think Nintendo knows, either.

Gaming in general has been in a drive away from simplicity since its inception. The first mainstream game had two commands: left and right. Now we have controllers with a dozen buttons, each of which does something different, often in conjunction with others. Games tell more complicated stories. They make you do more things for the sake of variety.

We expect complexity, simply put, and when we receive simplicity it feels like a rip off. Or do we truly want simplicity, but don’t know how to ask for it? These, and other interpretations, are the sorts of things you’ll be reading here this month. Along with our many other works.

For now, a question to you, faithful reader: what’s your favorite simple game? Would you like it more if it were more complicated?