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To paraphrase a line from The American President, the problem with Microsoft isn't that they don't get it. The problem is that they can't sell it. At E3 2008, Microsoft unveiled a line-up of products designed to appeal to the more casual gaming audience that Nintendo currently dominates with the Wii.

The miscalculation on the part of Microsoft is that they think they can appeal to the masses by providing something useful like Netflix connectivity and online chat parties or something that is supposed to be an improved experience like Lips, which is a refinement of the singing/rhythm game. These approaches will win a few minds of people, but it won't win their hearts and appealing to the heart is what gets people to open up their wallets.

The Wii isn't selling butt loads of units because it is more useful or better than its competitors. In fact, the controls and graphics are far worse and yet it is outselling and outpacing their rivals by growing margins. What Nintendo did with the Wii is create something that immediately captures people's attention and appeals to their emotional sensibilities.

Some of Nintendo's pundits call it a gimmick, but when it comes to the mainstream, gimmicks sell (George Foreman Grill anyone?). Casual audiences are fickle by nature and have short attention spans. In order to capture their attention, your concept needs to pop in a magical way. If you aren't getting a eureka-type feeling, then chances are, the general masses aren't going to go crazy for your wares.

George Foreman Grill

By going a more practical route, Microsoft is playing it safe, but playing it safe is a sure fire way to bore people. If it's one thing that we've learned from Nintendo, it's that if you want to appeal to the mainstream, you have to take out-of-the-box risks and at E3 2008, I'm just not seeing that from Microsoft.

Chi Kong Lui

Chi Kong Lui

In the 1980s, Chi grew up in small town on the outskirts of New York City called Jackson Heights. Latino actor, John Leguizamo referred to the town as the "melting pot of the world," and while living there, Chi was exposed to many diverse cultures, as well as a bevy of arcade classics such as Pac-Man, Space Ace, Space Harrier and Double Dragon. Chi's love of videogames only seemed to grow as his parents finally caved and bought him an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (after being the only kid in the block without one). In the 1990s, Chi finagled his way into the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts.

Somewhere between all the gaming, Chi some how managed to finish high school and get into the New York Institute of Technology. At the same time, Chi also interned at Virtual Frontiers, an Internet software consultancy where he learned the ways of HTML. Soon after acquiring his BFA, Chi went on to become the lead Web designer of the Anti-Defamation League. During his tenure there, Chi was instrumental in redesigning and relaunching the non-profit organization's Web site.

Today, Chi is the webmaster of the American Red Cross in Greater New York and somehow managed to work through the tragic events of September 11th without losing his sanity. Chi considers GameCritics.com his life's work and continues to be amazed that the web site is still standing after the recent dotcom fallout. It is his dream that GameCritics.com will accomplish two things: 1) Redefine the grammar of videogames much the same way French film critic Andre Bazin did for the art of cinema and 2) bring game criticism to the forefront of mainstream culture much the same way Siskel & Ebert did for film criticism.
Chi Kong Lui
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