Nintendo Wii: A Cultural Phenomenon

By: Jeremy Baldwin

Nintendo was finished. That was the buzz in the video game industry around the end of the life cycle for the Nintendo Gamecube. The system had seen only modest success as Sony's Playstation 2 dominated the video game market. The new buzz was on the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. Two machines that promised high definition gaming and multimedia functionality. Nintendo was in a rough place and had to hit back hard. Their answer, The Nintendo Wii.

Upon the announcement of the console name, the entire industry cringed. Wii did not sound like a video game system, it sounded like a bad schoolyard joke. How was this system going to appeal to the typical 12 - 30 year old male video game player?

Nintendo, however, wasn't aiming for this market. It was trying to persuade a new audience to play video games. Particularly women and adults. These are people who either stopped playing video games or never played them in the first place. But how was Nintendo going to get these people to play video games?

Nintendo's secret was in it's motion controller and with it's bundled game Wii Sports. The Wii Remote allowed people who found video games too complicated an easy way to play. Just swing the controller like a tennis racket and your character swings the racket just like you did. It's that simple. And people loved it. The Wii Sports game included interactive versions of Bowling, Tennis, Baseball, Bowling, and Golf. It had something that appealed to everyone. And the video game industry grew because of it. Nursing homes began buying Nintendo Wiis to get the elderly more active. Families started playing games together again. It was a new dawn in digital entertainment.

So it's over a year since the launch of the Nintendo Wii and they still won't sit on store shelves for more than a few minutes. Nintendo has recorded record profits and looks to dominate an industry it seemed to have lost only a few years ago. Sure the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 have found their share of success too but Nintendo has grown the market. Nintendo has paved the way for a future where video games will surpass both the movie and music industry in terms of consumption and profits. Who would have thought this would come from a company that looked close to folding it's tents only a short time ago.

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