Bringing gaming back to the masses – Nintendo Wii

Nintendo announced today the ship date (19 November) for its new video game console, the Wii (pronounced ‘we’), as well as the line up of games available at shipping time. See Live at Nintendo’s NYC Wii press conference for minute by minute details.

At a time when most new gaming systems, especially consoles like Microsoft‘s XBox 360 and Sony’s upcoming Playstation 3, focus on technical aspects like processing power and graphics resolution, Nintendo is taking a different approach:

“Our goal is to bring gaming back to the masses,” Reggie Fils-Aime, president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America, said in a telephone interview. “You see that in our pricing, you see that in the number of units we plan to make available this year and you see that in how we are positioning the Wii to appeal to every member of the household, including but not limited to the hard-core gamer.”

The Wii’s major innovation is a wireless controller that the user can tilt and point to produce action on the screen. In a sword-fighting game, for instance, the player can simply swing the controller to thrust and parry with an on-screen blade; there is no need to master the complicated combinations of buttons and triggers that make many video games so intimidating to the reflex-challenged.

All along, Nintendo has resisted what seems to be the general direction of gaming consoles. When the PS2 and original XBox were pushing to make the console an entertainment center, including such things as DVD players, Nintendo kept to the basics with the GameCube. The trend seems to be continuing, and I for one am happy to see it. (I think I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this and trying it out as much as my kids are!)

Check out Wikipedia for a Comparison of seventh-generation game consoles.