Wii Sports

The video game industry did not included “pack-in” games since the days of the Super Nintendo in the early 1990’s. Originally, consoles came with a game so that consumers could have something to play right out of the box. These titles became instant hits. Games like Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, Tetris, or Sonic the Hedgehog helped to set the tone for a console’s audience and its success. Nintendo’s 1985 hit Super Mario Bros. for the original NES/Famicom remains the best selling game of all time, raking in over 40 million units in sales not counting repeated reiterations of the title. Though pack ins were a treat for consumers, and a given, this all ended when third party developers complained that it cut into their profits.

Nintendo has returned to the idea of the pack-in with the Wii. Included with the system, in European and American versions, is the title Wii Sports. The title is a solid product demo, a term we previously affixed to Excite Truck. The game simulates five popular sports which are performed through the unique motion-sensing abilities of the Wii remote. Baseball players throw pitches and swing the bat, tennis players both serve and swing the racket. This is similarly true of bowling, boxing, and golf games.

A Personal Narrative

When we talked about Brain Age, we spoke of the idea of the “personal narrative.” In that game, a player enhanced his or her cognitive ability by playing the training games which exercised the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The narrative inherent to Brain Age was one of personal development and discovery. The journey was yours to have or not to have. Your progress either happened or it didn’t. It was based on your level of participation and performance. The same is true of Wii Sports. Similar to Brain Age, Wii Sports has a training mode, in which repeated practice enhances your age score. Again, like Brain Age, the weakest score is 80 and the best is age 20.

In a final bit of similarity, the player must regress in age to achieve the optimum outcome. Since the younger age of 20 is the best score in both games, one must grow younger and regress to a previous state of existence to achieve victory instead of growing older and attaining a newer state of existence. This personal narrative is heightened in Wii Sports because unlike Brain Age, where your avatar is merely the tip of your pen and your hand-written name, this game allows you to make use of the Wii’s “Mii” avatar system. A Mii is a self-created doppelganger. This addition plunges the player even further into the game and adds to the experience.

A Broader Appeal

This game caters to a very wide audience. Persons of any age or experience level with games would find this an enjoyable experience and find themselves to be capable of it without a steep learning curve. Furthermore, watching someone play Wii Sports is as enjoyable as playing it yourself. More than the Wii’s controls, this game demonstrates that this media format can successfully appeal to people of all walks of life, breaking down the notion that games are the realm of young men. It could change the way we play games and the way they are viewed.

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