Its interesting how this has played out in the video game market this year. When the Playstation 3 came out, my wife and I started to think about getting a gaming console under the guise that it would be for my boys (really, it was for me). The idea though was that the gaming experience would be simple enough for my two boys (5 & 2) to be able to play with me. We tried a number of them out — but in each case, the button combinations needed to be performed on the XBox 360 and the Playstation 3 made the games unplayable for my boys. You simply need bigger hands if you want to play these games and use these controllers. We’d kindof given up our search, expecting that we’d just have to wait a few more years before something like this would be playable for the boys. Then we visited Jeremy house and got to see his Wii.
The Wii, for those that haven’t had a chance to play, it a very different gaming experience. The console sacrifices some of the high end graphics for simple gameplay and fun. You have controllers that are motioned controlled, rather than primarily button controlled. It looked fun, the boys seemed to get it, so we got one.
We’ve had our Wii now for about a month, and I can tell you that Nintendo has a real winner here. I’m actually sitting here right now watching my 2 year old play “boxing”. He’s got fists of fury as he swings his arms around trying to “knock” out the cartoon characters on the screen. Periodically, I’m hearing him telling me that he’s going to “knock his socks off”. Funny to watch. But its a system that he gets. He doesn’t have to click buttons, just swing the controllers. Simple interface. Of course, we see this happening in other corners, yet we still find it surprising. Gaming manufacturers, for example, are scrambling to get titles available for the Wii, in part because they assumed it would be a novelty and were surprised by its popularity. I wasn’t — but I had my own little usability crew showing me exactly why the simplest interface almost always wins.