This new Bloomberg article sums everything up nicely, with some much needed direct quotes from Nintendo's president, Satoru Iwata. It's both stunning and kind of sad we're getting this "we're going to embrace a new business model" rhetoric from Nintendo leadership, and that they're "going to study" mobile markets and what-not. It's stunning in that Nintendo is finally acknowledging that it may not be a bad thing to not always go against the grain and follow their own path. It's sad in that this smacks of Nintendo's snail-like move to HD and other modern technologies, which caused a lot of their problems in the first place, i.e., slow to produce new games, behind-the-times online services, etc. Once they're done with their studying and assumed eventual embracing of at least some of these things, how much more time will have passed? Maybe it's indeed time for Iwata to step down like promised and have new, more inspired - and quicker acting and reacting - leadership to take his place. Sometimes it's just time to move on and let someone younger have a crack at the future of the company--just ask Microsoft's Steve Ballmer.
My second podcast has arrived, and it is heavier on the theory than the controversy - at least I hope.
In this podcast, I submit that gaming - specifically the creativity behind it - is dead. This is certainly not a new idea - but I attempt to explain where we have been and look back at what made us successful. Where are we going? That's up to us.
Expect a look at the past, a bit of gaming philosophy, and a short, semi-technical story.
I look forward to your feedback.
Probably the hardest part of my new book to write was the conclusion, where I tried to think about the future of our favorite genre: the standalone, single-player CRPG. That genre includes all the classic Ultimas, Bard's Tale, Gold Box games, and so on. It's all the genre that has suffered the most attrition from game developers and publishers, though the better ones still attract mainstream attention (Oblivion, Mass Effect). What I want to do here is focus on a few subgenres, if you will, that to my mind have the best chance of thriving in the current market. I will naturally focus on PC games, though where possible these concepts could be applied to any of the new consoles.
David Levy's book Robots Unlimited: Life in a Virtual Age is a great introduction not only to robots, but also the various technologies that must work together in their creation: logic, artificial intelligence (AI), speech synthesis, natural language processing, sensory recognition, personality training, emotion--does it ever end? Although most people assume that we're centuries away from the invention of an intelligent, human-like android like "Data," Levy shows just how close we've gotten and just how soon we'll be interacting with amazingly smart robots on a daily basis. Robots will enhance our lives in countless ways; they'll not only help us in our daily tasks, but also become our friends and even our soul mates. They'll talk to us and show a sensitivity to our emotional states that not even our mothers could match. Furthermore, they'll be wonderful inventors and artists, breathing new life into every field of creative endeavor. Sound like science fiction? Levy shows that the only "fiction" is that robots won't play a vital role in the (near) future of the human race. David Levy will make you a believer.
Although Nintendo fanboys like to act like the Wii's new remote controller is only a wee bit short of a revolution (sorry, couldn't resist), the real future seems to lie in something a bit more radical: Say, controlling a game of Space Invaders with nothing but your brain. Some clever spudboys at the Washington University of St. Louis decided that the best way to help them treat a severe case of epilepsy in a 14-year old was to hook his brain up to the game and watch what happened. In no time at all, the kid was clearing whole levels just by thinking about where he wanted the ship to move and fire--as easily as moving a hand! You've got to see this video!
With E3 long past and all the data readily available and no doubt already devoured by those reading this right now, I thought it would be a good time to make some of my thoughts surrounding Nintendo's Wii, Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PS3, as well as the GameTap service for the PC, known. (all my thoughts of course are US-centric)
Anyway, whether the Wii - and yes, I still believe the name is a poor one and an unecessary liability - releases at $199 or $249, it should still come in at a good value in comparison to the high end $399 version of the Xbox 360 and the high end $599 version of the PS3. At the same time, the high end Microsoft and Sony systems are high quality multimedia centers, whereas the Wii is not. For many, this is not a factor, as they just want a game system, but I believe the higher prices - anywhere from $200 to $400 - are still justified, particularly as they're the only consoles to offer hi-definition gaming. Nintendo really has made a clear distinction with their direction, as have Microsoft and Sony with their hardware decisions. (and again, don't use the videogames are for kids argument with me, as a kid can't afford $200+ any more than one could afford $400+; don't forget, the average gamer age is now 33 and rises EVERY YEAR)