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Friday, August 14, 2009

"LOL Wii Vitality Sensor LOL"

The war has begun, and the Vitality Sensor is the flashpoint.

That's what the hardcore would have you believe:  That Nintendo has gone one step too far with this whole "casual" thing.  Who do they think we are, anyway?  It's time to put an end to these stupid peripherals and dumb ideas and get back to making games.  The line has been drawn!  They must be stopped at all costs!  Nintendo has been on the defensive now too, with Iwata saying that it's a good idea that people don't understand what the Vitality Sensor is for.  That means that Nintendo is innovating, and everything will work out in the end.  Meanwhile, comparisons have been drawn to the Virtual Boy, and nerd rage is running at a fever pitch.

I don't understand all the clamoring and cacophonous clatter over an innocuous piece of plastic.  It's really not that bad, and certainly not a huge risk for Nintendo.  Frankly, it's a non-issue and should be treated as such.

Whether or not you agree with the aim of the Vitality Sensor (and I don't) you can at least see the potential.  Imagine Eternal Darkness where the sanity effects are tied to your own calmness and you'll get a picture for what can be done with this equipment.  Imagine Wii Fit keeping track of how you're feeling and helping you adjust your workout routine accordingly.  It's not for everyone, but-

...Wait, it's not for everyone?  You mean I don't have to use the Vitality Sensor?  It's not going to become integral to all my future games?  In fact, I can even ignore the thing at retail and be perfectly happy?  Wow!

See, the Vitality Sensor is only a peripheral.  It's not a new way of doing business.  Nintendo has launched Wii Speak with Animal Crossing, and it's been used in a couple of games, but it's not a necessity.  Nintendo bundled a mike with Hey You Pikachu (ugh) and didn't make that much use of it.  Nintendo bundled a mouse with Mario Paint.  The fact that a company releases a peripheral doesn't mean that they're gearing everything toward it.

At this point, Nintendo can afford to try out a really wacky idea and see if it works.  No one else in the industry has the clout to do it except Nintendo, so why not?  If it fails, it wasn't a huge loss and if it succeeds more money for Nintendo.  It's not nearly the amount of risk as, say, Natal (in which Microsoft is pinning a large chunk of their future hopes) or Sony's motion controls (which they're touting as the next big thing).  If Natal or Sony's motion project fails, it practically takes the company out of the race.  If the Vitality Sensor fails, who cares?  No big loss for Nintendo.

Here's the real underlying fear.  What if the Vitality Sensor takes off?  Then what?  Then you'll have Nintendo making really good games that use it, and you'll have Microsoft and Sony copying it, and you'll have another casual boom and I JUST CAN'T HANDLE THIS RIGHT NOW.  Then you'll be FORCED to get it and gaming takes another long stride towards oblivion and being turned back into a toy, a curiosity that is of no consequence, not the direction it SHOULD be going, towards Real Art that Says Something and makes a Statement, even if that Statement has to do with Girls In Bikinis.

I'll cover that fear in a different article.