[archived from: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/mccu0154/mugwump/2007/01/playing_with_my_boyfriends_wii.html]

…and then we turned on the Nintendo. *cough*

Blog Assignment
This week play an interactive game and then discuss in your blog about the usability of the interface. Could the game’s experience be improved if the interface was easier to use? How?

For those of you not in the know, the Wii is Nintendo’s new “action-based” (my term) console system. You play by clutching what fans have dubbed the “Wii-mote”, so dubbed for its resemblence to a remote, and madly thrashing around in a fashion similar to your character. If you’re golfing, you grip the control like a club and swing. If you bowl, you lift the Wii-mote backwards and swing your arm forward and release. There’s also a controller attachment called the nunchuck which takes the interaction into both hands, allowing you to realistically float like a butterfly and sting like a bee for boxing, etc. One of the most interesting and initially confusing aspects of the system is the abandonment of using a directional control pad to select items. You instead aim the Wii-mote at the option and click. Literally point and click. It’s a mind trip, but you quickly get accustomed to the motion.

In the game Wario Ware, you must complete ridiculous tasks/mini games in 3–5 seconds using various gestures/grips. For example the dumbell motion requires you to hold the Wii-mote like a dumbell and lift. There’s a janitor pose for sweeping games, a tug of war motion that’s used to vacuum and plane wood, and much much more. There’s a thumb wrestler motion that requires you to hold the Wii-mote upright with your thumb on top. One of the thumb wrestler games requires you to slowly pick up a glass and drink. You see the character on screen in profile, and my initial reaction was to move the controller to the left, mimicing the screen animation. After losing a few times, I realized I had to lift the Wii-mote to my mouth as if I was drinking. Overcoming the disconnect between self and game is one of the most amazing things on the Wii. You become way more involved in the games because you’re acting out the actions on screen. It’s cool.

On the downside, the motion control of the Wii-mote can take getting used to. It’s easy to go off screen at first, causing misfires and foiled attempts at playing. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a technology thing (there’s a motion sensor placed above the tv, a motion sensor in the Wii-mote, and the controller also acts as a light gun. Gyroscopes are probably involved somewhere.). A lot of the games for the system so far are focused on the controller, and in Wario Ware it figures in as a plot device. The Wii-mote makes the system far more interactive than any other controller before it. I think the system needs some time to mature to make the actions less contrived.

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