Thursday, April 24, 2008

Is the Wii a Toy or a Gaming System?

A VERY interesting interview with the heads of Bioware (you know the company responsible for a few small games like, Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic etc).

Interview: BioWare On Narrative, Wii Gaming, Mainstream Press, MMOs & More

It's well worth reading, they discuss such things as is the Wii a gaming platform or a toy platform, and what the differences between those are, along with the various other things mentioned in the title.

I think I'd agree with the view that at the moment the Wii is more of a toy than a gaming system in that do you play the gmae for the game (storyline etc) or do you play with it to have fun with your friends?


Matt said...

Wii Sports maybe. Zelda: Twilight Princess, on the other hand, was the most immersive storied game I've ever played on any platform, bar none. Sure, Neverwinter Nights etc have their moments, but for pure emotional investment in a fictional world, and the way that lets the game kick your ass around, I haven't come across anything that beats Zelda.

EONsim said...

Yeah it is a bit of a mix with some of games like Zelda, but at the same time theres a lot of more "toy" like games that are popular on the system.

Heh NWN had possibly the worst/weakest story line that any Bioware RPG has ever had. If you've not played Baldur's Gate I or II you should borrow them and give them a go.

Brehaut said...

I think that's a grossly unfair assessment of the Wii, games and toys.

First up there seems to be a trend to judge the Wii largely by Wii sports and the other 'social'/'party' games available. And yes the Wii has lots of them and they are largely toys. At this point I need to point out Sturgeon's Law — "[90% of everything is crap]". Judging a system by the drek produced for it seems to be a foolish approach. This is doubly true when developers are making a land grab for market share on a system that was far and away more successful than anyone expected. Cheap crap has been ground out for the Wii. But there has been some excellent titles too. Zelda, Super Mario Galaxy, Prince of Persia all fall squarely in the narrative game.

Secondly I think their definition of what is a game and what is a toy is a little wonky. They seem to be claiming that narrative is the key distinction between a game and a toy. In particular a narrative between the game and the player, rather than between players.

Will Wright has a better definition in my opinion. A 'game' is something with specific goals and objectives. A 'toy' is something to interact with that has no predetermined objectives, and you make up your own.

According to the definition they proposed, I would say the Wii provides both game and toy entertainment. To use Will Wrights definition, it is probably closer to 95% game.

EONsim said...

I tend to like both descriptions though I see them as being similar. After all the Bioware chaps "narrative" generally has a goal. Thus an in game narrative provides the goals that Will Wright talks about for his game definition. While the Bioware chaps definition of a Toy where the players create there own narrative outside of the game again seems in-essence to be similar to Will Wrights toy definition.

In which case, while the wii has some "game" games it has a lot less of them and I think they're less of a focus for the developers than "toy" games, compared to either the PS3 or X360. So as long as you aren't thinking in black and whites, then the view that the wii is "more" of a toy system than the competing consoles is accurate, one just needs to remember that it is not solely a console for "toy" games.