I admit it. I thought Nintendo was dead a few years back… I confidently predicted that XBox 360 and PS3 would fight it out like T-Rex and Triceratops in some “Lost World” movie. I thought Nintendo DS looked pants and that PSP would pwn it. I thought the Wii would tank – especially when I heard the name. I was wrong. Nintendo was the pesky little mammal watching that dino-fight and waiting for the asteroid (or whatever it was) to change everything. It’s getting up to Crimble and Nintendo are advertising like buggery. But…
I still don’t quite get it. I appreciate they’ve broken the gaming mould but it’s left me feeling gen-gapped. I shouldn’t feel gen-gapped. I am pretty much the same age as the home computer. I’m up to date on PC-stuff and I get the attraction of Call-of-Metal-Half-Doom-Gears-of-War and stuff like that but I don’t get Nintendo. They have “Brain Training” which I thought was bonkers but hell whadda I know? It sold like free beer on a Saturday night, in Ireland! It still looks like doing a GCSE maths exam though. They also advertise this “game” where you use the various controllers to “play” on-screen musical instruments. It’ll probably shift more units than the Bible but I just don’t see the point of a musical instrument simulator. It’s like those “Guitar Hero” stuff. They’ll even sell you a “guitar controller” and all for more than a battered second-hand acoustic and a book of chords. What the hell is that about? The latest Wii offering seems to involve some rather Matt Groening-looking flatulent rabbits which in one of the games you can control by sitting on a board and waggling your arse. It proudly proclaims to be the first buttock controlled game in history. Oh and there’s something else. There’s a “game” called “Animal Crossing” which I absolutely don’t even pretend to understand enough to even describe. The ad shows a young woman playing it in a living room with big French windows and a voice-over about how the game is about “connecting with nature”. Look love, save yourself a few quid and just go into the garden. Is I getting old or somefink?
Personally I blame “The Sims”. I have played all the SimCity Games. Those I got. For me gaming is largely about doing things I wouldn’t normally be able to do. And God-like control of an entire City is something I don’t normally do (not being one of Mr Obama’s friends and all that). But all those Sims expansion packs – “The Sims go on holiday”, “The Sims go on a date”, “The Sims re-decorate the bathroom” are all so prosaic. The idea of simulating ordinary life is something I don’t get. Flying a Sabre-jet right to the stall in a desperate battle with MiGs over the Yalu, conquering the world or a little space-piracy are all things I get. And I love gaming because I can’t do them in real life. But going on holiday – yup, couple of months back; going on a date – yup could do that though my wife would kill me; redecorate the bathroom – gotta do that or my wife really will kill me I don’t need a game for. Even when proper gaming is in the realms of the possible it’s at the extreme. There are footie games and they’re about stuff like winning the European Cup – they’re not about a Sunday League kickabout – “Really feel the drizzle and the barked shins!”. There are driving games but they usually put you in Lewis Hamilton’s seat and not stuck in traffic near the Trafford Centre on the M-60 on a Thursday evening wondering if you’ll get home in time for Eastenders.
Gaming is, or should be, a disconnect from the real world in the same way the Cinema is. It should be about pretending to be a fighter pilot or re-building the British Empire by strength and guile or running narcotics from Downtown to Riverside in your Swallow with the entire Lazarus Family on your six. It should be about entering a totally different world and doing it from the comfort and safety of a back bedroom (or in my case a shed). I know gamers have frequently (in the past – it’s waaay to “mainstream” these days) been portrayed as strange loners who need to get a life but frankly I have a life and I don’t want a second one. Nintendo fair-play to you and all that but if you don’t mind I’ll stick to battling aliens and flying Spitfires and dreams of Galactic conquest because that makes sense to me. Much more than the weird stuff that passes for much gaming these days does anyway.