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News Extended – "The Wii is a piece of sh*t," says Hecker

Andrew Fletcher's picture

Wii Console"The Wii is a piece of sh*t," says Hecker

Apologies for choosing such a shamelessly eye-grabbing headline, but bear with me. Yes Chris Hecker's statistic about Nintendo's lack of the phrase "art-form" on their websites is silly, and yes he himself uses the phrase "suck ass" to describe the Wii (just pipped to the crude post by Brad's recent description of the PSP), but there are two perfectly valid points being made underneath the rant rage.

The first is that the Wii is clearly underpowered in some developers' eyes, and not just in its ability to throw millions of hi-def polys around. The GameCube was crippled by its memory capacity, with only the in-house and big budget titles really unlocking its potential (Zelda, Metroid, Resident Evil), and all the Wii adds to that base technology is another chunk of hard to access memory. As a developer, reigning in your ambition because of the hardware you're working with is never fun, and Nintendo have just gifted Wii developers with another few years of such frustration.

The second, more interesting point was Hecker's suggestion that Ninendo's party line of making and styling games as fun playthings rather than aspiring works of art is actually debilitating to the industry, which is forever fighting prejudice and aiming for the credibility and artistic freedoms of other mediums. Of course, many will rightly argue that there is room for both notions of videogames to co-exist and that games like Brain Age and Nintendogs are doing more than any other recent 'mature' title to spread the appeal of gaming and encourage wider cultural acceptance. But if Nintendo becomes the market leader of the next few generations then it has the potential to shape and re-shape the mainstream perception of gaming. What would GameCritics readers think if Nintendo spent the next 10 years effectively reversing the 'PlayStation effect'?

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of course there is room for

of course there is room for both distraction and apirations toward art - real problems occur when the issue is made into one of polarity, and either side convinces itself that they are inherently incompatible, that video games are "meant" to be one thing and not the other, as if books are only allowed to be either cheap dime store novels OR great literature.

what, exactly, is the "playstation effect"? the perception that playstation titles are exclusively heavy-handed and a bore to play and that nintendo titles are purely kid stuff is silly. i personally would prefer more serious games - i'll play solitaire if i want some silly distraction - so you can imagine what systems i will and won't be picking up, but to suggest that games must be one or the other, even within the context of one system, is ridiculous.

Playstation Effect

Generally, as far as I know, the "Playstation Effect" is used to describe how the Playstation brought videogames to the public eye and made them more mainstream. Up until that point, you were still a "nerd" if you played videogames. Now, everyone plays games, and you're only a "nerd" if you play a whole lot of them (generally speaking, of course). People give the Playstation far too much credit, though. The PS1 was just the first step: it made videogames mainstream... with male teenagers (even the cool ones). That's certainly a long way from being recognized as a "legit" art form, though. The next few steps along the path came more subtly, in the form of a few games on each console (for example, the PS2 had MGS2 and 3, ICO, and Shadow of the Colossus, among others, which are generally hailed as artistic achievements, but overall the system has the same "teenage male" appeal that the PS1 had).

Gamecube Memory, PlayStation Effect

I can't see why Gamecube was crippled by its memory capacity. I thought PS2 had LESS memory than Gamecube, which made Capcom reduce graphics detail for the PS2 port of RE4.

To add to Spiffyness' definition of the "PlayStation Effect," with PSOne, Sony broadened the then current demographic to include older males, because they had these hip, mature titles like Tekken, Wipeout, and Gran Turismo. I hope this was what you meant to say in your article.

What I would like Nintendo to do is not to reverse this effect, because then it would be like the 16-bit era all over again, but for them to keep the existing user base and at the same time attract other people and expand the market further.

Or maybe it's up to Sony and Microsoft to keep the current demographic, while Nintendo goes out and tries to get the rest of the global human population?

Re: Playstation Effect

Thanks for chiming in on what you think the "Playstation effect" actually is. :) It's a phrase I just knocked up, trying to differentiate between the effect Sony has had as the market leader and the influence Nintendo might have if they were to assert dominance over the home console (as well as handheld) market.

But the question I asked was hypothetical because Hecker's rhetoric is ultimately just a moan. It was interesting to hear someone criticize Nintendo for not taking the medium 'seriously' enough, suggesting that they actually have a responsibility to do so as one of the biggest (and best) players in the industry. But in reality the market will go where it will: The years of PlayStation dominance did not kill off Nintendo or their philosophy of fun, accessible gaming, and the success of the Wii, the DS and the 'Touch Generations' software will not stop other developers from wanting to make tech-testing, serious-minded content.

But it is tempting to wonder what kind of games Nintendo would produce if they ditched the mascots and got down to some serious fun. :) If Metroid Prime was a taster, I know I wouldn't mind some more...

Hecker full of contradictions

Hecker says "It's about interactivity - that is the key differentiator of our art form, and interactivity is about doing something interesting with that input and threading it back to the user. You can't do that with a piece of sh*t underpowered computer."

As I read the statement above, doesn't the Wii-mote fulfill his criteria of "doing something interesting?" Heck, no other console has innovated the input more than the Wii at this point. Just because Gates and Harrison talk the talk doesn't make their respective console's games more artful and innovative. Even if Nintendo denies their games being art, they are often better art than a majority of the games that are out there.

Also, since when does expression and art hampered by "underpowered" tools? Did cavemen complain that they didn't have 32-bit colors? A good artist can make beautiful art with a piece of charcoal. Art is about pushing boundaries and it can be done under both limiting and expansive parameters.

Re: Hecker full of contradictions

Chi Kong Lui says: "Also, since when does expression and art hampered by "underpowered" tools? Did cavemen complain that they didn't have 32-bit colors? A good artist can make beautiful art with a piece of charcoal. Art is about pushing boundaries and it can be done under both limiting and expansive parameters."

Yes, but the availability of CGI graphics has allowed other artistry to be created. To say that having all the tools normally available isn't to limit the extent of possible artistry is misleading. Ico was brilliant art, to my mind the finest artistic effort gaming has ever seen, and it was packaged on a CD, well into the DVD era. But who's to say the next major achievement won't utilise every trick that is currently available? A serious exploration of war, perhaps, requiring massive amounts of polygons on display?

Limits are as important as freedoms in art. But only as important. For an artist to claim the Wii doesn't afford him those freedoms is perfectly legitimate.

Everyone played video games

Everyone played video games when I was a kid (born in 81) the cool kids and the nerds. However for the kids older than us and adults video games were seen as nerdy. I think 'the playstation effect' is mostly BS and you've just seen the first generation of people exposed to games as young children grow up over the last decade.

Sean Riley says: "Limits are

Sean Riley says: "Limits are as important as freedoms in art. But only as important. For an artist to claim the Wii doesn't afford him those freedoms is perfectly legitimate."

You know, back in 1763, when scientists discovered that poems could be more than seventeen syllables long, many people suggested that it was the death of the Haiku, but here we are, 244 years later, and literally eight people a year still write Haikus.

My point, if I have one, is that someone's claim that the Wii doesn't afford him the freedom to create art speaks more to his lack of creativity and imagination than it does to the Wii's lack of power.

The greatest videogame about war I've ever encountered is World War I Medic (available here: http://bay12games.com/ww1medic/), which manages to be an incisive commentary while weighing in at little more than a megabyte.

Oh, and Anonymous, you're absolutely right - the mainstreaming of video games is mostly about the fact that none of us that grew up on them have stopped playing - any more than people stop watching TV or reading books when they grow up.

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