Older Americans Increasingly Using Video Games as Recreational Alternative…….

Now, I want to see the Wii SmartCar roll up in front of a retirement home and blow the roof off the joint. Details from The New York Times via Digg:

Anxious about the mental cost of aging, older people are turning to games that rely on quick thinking to stimulate brain activity. A step slower than in their youth, they are using digital recreations of bowling, tennis and golf.

read more | digg story

Up With Wii…….

"Kids may like Nintendo games, but that doesn’t mean Nintendo games are just for kids. When did bright colors and bloodless gameplay become so unappealing to people?" -Leo Laporte, head TWIT

wii

I’m very excited about the new Wii gaming platform.   I think the Wii, which is built around controllers that act as an extension of the human body’s own sense of proprioception, is a huge revolutionary leap in the gaming world.

The Wii is designed to pick up your body’s motion.  This movement is captured by two hand held controllers that look like small, slim television remote controls which are linked by a thin cord.  During a game, you would move your hands to accomplish a task–like hit a tennis ball or reel in a big fish, and on screen you would see your character perform that task in real time.

Nintendo is working to bring more people into the gaming area.   I think they will succeed for this reason: the Wii’s new approach to gaming is the perfect vehicle to tap Nintendo’s deep creative reserve.

Nintendo’s traditional bloodless mandate has kept the company creatively ahead of the crowd.  Lacking the easy way out, Nintendo has been forced to think outside the box and come up with clever, non-violent ways to solve conflict or to create games which do not center around the kill or be killed  paradigm. 

Regis Fils-Aime is the President of Nintendo of America and was quoted extensively for a Seattle Times article on Nintendo and the soon to be launched Wii.  Here is a few paragraphs I found particularly interesting:

But much of Fils-Aime’s recent work has been figuring out how to reach older generations, the people who don’t play video games or gave them up years ago. Nintendo is trying to expand the game-playing audience with titles the hard-core gamer might snicker at, such as the dog-training simulator "Nintendogs" or the brainteaser-filled "Brain Age." The company even demonstrated its products at a recent AARP convention.

Nintendo’s move to draw new audiences is driven by one fact: The percentage of the population that plays video games hasn’t changed much over time. "We’re becoming more and more insular," he said. "We’re becoming more and more a core group of players who are spending money on new systems, but are we growing the industry in total? Arguably not."

Since the Wii has the potential to strengthen the mind-body connection, it will be especially interesting to see what latent benefits the life-hackers discover.  Even if the Wii’s main benefit turns out to be getting people of all ages off the couch and moving again, it will be a successful addition to modern life.