The Wii is getting a lot of stick at the moment, Nintendo being branded as nefarious traitors to the cause for catering only towards the casual market. However, one must remember the very strange and uncomfortable situation Nintendo is in right now; sure, they may well be making more money than God, but their fanbase is disjointed, comprising of two distinctly different – even antagonistic – groups.
On the one hand you have the Nintendo fans who have grown up with Mario and chums and thus buy a Wii on the back of the good ol’ days. However, you also have the so-called “casual gamer,” comprising of those new to gaming. They may have bought a Wii to lose weight, look trendy or simply to try something new. To make matters worse, these groups are essentially conflicting entities, with the traditional, dare I say ‘hardcore’ gamer bearing a strong degree of resentment towards their newfound kin. This, I believe, is hugely hypocritical.
To those who dub themselves as belonging to the ‘hardcore’ I ask you this; were you born a gamer? Was your first gaming experience netting PP and doing double damage to a fearsome dragon king? When you were birthed by your mother, were you dropped onto the tender head of a Goomba waddling underneath? No, you weren’t. Chances are, like me, you found an entry-level title which introduced you to the wonderful world of videogames. My first game, for instance, was a tabletop LCD version of Frogger; a hugely simplistic game but one which had me hooked enough so that I eventually bought a Game Boy, then a SNES, then an N64 and so on. Titles we now dub as retro classics such as Pac-Man or indeed Frogger were essentially the entry-level games of their time. Even the PlayStation did the same, Sony using a marketing strategy which is now more synonymous with Nintendo in targeting a whole new market (an audience which by and large now counts itself as ‘traditional’ gamers). It’s reminiscent of the old American saying – the best thing to ever happen to the Irish was the Italians moving in. The latest generation of gamers are always scapegoated by old hands in a form of cultural elitism which has contributed to the popular deriding of the Wii.
To be honest, I count myself as a hardened gaming veteran, but I at least can appreciate Nintendo catering towards the casual audience. Without a constant stream of people being introduced to videogaming by a company adult enough to reach out to the casual gamer, the industry would become increasingly isolated, perhaps leading to a crash not seen since the early-1980s.
At the risk of sounding like a rapper circa 1992, gamers have got to remember their roots.