Writers Guild announces award for video game writing


This news is a couple weeks old by now, but I thought it was an interesting step forward for those who support the games as art point of few.  It seems like it's only a matter of time before there is an Oscar for in game voice acting or motion capture acting, as well as other awards for the entire gaggle of artistic mediums that come together when creating a modern video game. 

I don't think that all video games are art … but the immersiveness of games, especially MMORPGs, seems to present an artistic endeavor.  The synthetic worlds that are being built for modern games are incredible in their depth. I've always felt that part of what makes something art is its ability to engage and move the viewer, and there's not a lot of art out there that engages and has the ability to move more than these worlds.

It's probably been done already, but I think the idea of building a world as a work of art could be really interesting … immersing someone in a painting/sculpture rather than having him or her view it from behind a velvet rope.  The possibilities of what can be done with mathematical physics modeling, artificial intelligence, as well as the actual environment of the world seem endless. 

Will the Wii Eat Itself?


Despite my initial unwillingness to jump on the bandwagon, we are the proud owners of a Wii.  Now as I've started to look for games to get, I've been a little disappointed with whats out there, especially compared to the great games that the PS3 and Xbox 360 have been releasing lately. 

As an owner of the system and someone who has been rooting for Nintendo
(even though I wouldn't have touched the Gamecube with a 10 foot pole),
I'm a little worried about Wii's sustainability. 

I think a lot of what made the Wii sell so well initially was the hype around it.  People heard about the new technology, heard that it was hard to find, and bada-boom, just like that you have a marketing success.  This shortage continued through the 06 holiday season, into the spring and summer, and just last week, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé announced that once again, Nintendo is not going to be able to meet demand for Wii's during the holiday season.  Is it marketing?  Or is it legit?  Part of me thinks that with games like Halo 3 being released and Nintendo not having anything game-wise to hit back with, they are using this as a tactic to artificially inflate demand.  Which makes total sense for them, because unlike their competitors, they actually make money on their system sales. 

"While Sony and Microsoft
lose money on hardware in hopes of seeding the market with their
consoles, analysts say Nintendo makes about $50 on every unit. It may
not sound like much, but the company plans to sell 35 million of these
things over the next few years. That's $1.75 billion in potential
profit." CNN

But what about the long term?  While Nintendo has published some franchise games like Zelda, Metroid, and a new Mario game coming out in November, many of the games that have been released by third party developers
are ports from other systems that have been panned for gimmicky use of the motion control abilities of
the system.

"There has also been a lot of talk about how 3rd party publishers seem
to be flooding the Wii with crappy PS2/PSP ports with tacked on
"waggle" controls." – 1Up.com

"Third-party publishers, as we predicted last fall, are still having a
hard time producing Wii titles that aren't lame (we're talking to you, Scarface and Spider-Man 3).  It only reinforces an old myth, but the three gotta-have-'em Wii titles set to be released later this year — Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Metroid Prime 3 — are all from…Nintendo. Still, if they're as good as promised, no one's likely to care." – Entertainment Weekly (July 2007):

No one is likely to care, but without the volume of games provided by third party support, I'm not sure that Nintendo can continue to produce enough great games on its own to sustain the system through the years.  In a world where gamer focused games like Halo 3 can rack up $300
million in sales in its first week on the market, I can completely understand why publishers are less inclined to try and innovate something completely new on the Wii when they can stick to the tried and true for the chance of a mega-payday. 

The way around this of course, is to prove that Wii can produce big time profits for the developer willing to invest in making a truly great game for it.  But that could be the tricky part.  With hardcore gamers heading to other systems, it's imperative for Nintendo to keep the attention of their non-gamer Wii owners.  But how long will the novelty keep non-gamers buying new games?  Will they continue to care about playing this thing in a year?  If they get bored and stop buying, and developers continue to focus on the other systems for the blockbuster sales potential, there's a good chance that Wii could become just a fad. 

"The Wii is currently riding on a massive wave of mainstream attention
and has been purchased by lots of people who don't normally play games.
But how many of those people who are hooked on Wii Sports will also buy
Wii Need For Speed? Mainstream fads usually run their course within a
year. As the honeymoon period fades, the Wii will be going up against
more and more graphically impressive games on the PS3 and Xbox 360.
More people will be buying HD televisions and looking for the most
immersive and stunning experiences available. For these reasons, I
think the Wii will be more successful than the GameCube or N64 but in
the long run will still be outsold by the PS3."
– Insomniac Games chief creative officer, Brian Hastings thinks fad (via Joystiq):

So despite the success Nintendo has experienced in the past year, I would argue that Nintendo is not nearly out of the woods yet.  I hope that they are up to the challenge … because I think the Wii has tremendous promise, and well, I own one. 

Point, Counterpoint

Dan Charron, VP-sales and marketing at Miralus Healthcare, the marketer of "Head-On"

"If a focus group tells us something is not going to work, we discard
it. There's no conflict of interest this way," he said. "We don't care
about winning creative awards."

– Mark Fenske, former CD at Wieden + Kennedy

"The decision to run one ad rather than another is made by 15 people who
don't work for the client or the agency but were found wandering about
in a shopping mall one afternoon and who, when approached by people
with clipboards did not possess even enough sense to walk the other way
but instead were persuaded in less than a minute to follow an unknown
person down a hallway into a dark room after being promised a bowl of
M&M’s and maybe enough money to buy a tank of gas. (This is called
a focus group. Bad news–you'll get a chance to see more than one before you're dead)

will not be aware they are making a decision, will not know which of
their remarks made the decision & which not, but their unconsidered
& unconnected sayings, pauses, burps & look-abouts will be
collected into a voice more powerful than the weight of the agency’s
argument or the common sense of anyone involved."