I caught a post yesterday by Daniel Hengeveld (Link) over on his blog which resonated with some things that have been going through my head recently. I read a nice piece somewhere not long ago laying out how game controller design adversely affects the design of videogames (if someone know the one to which I’m referring, please post a link). I’ll admit to being someone who avoids controllers, but only because I’m tied to the keyboard-mouse combo. For a product designer, however, this kind of observation is interesting because … well … those controllers should be easier to use than the keyboard-mouse.
Well, for anyone following the news out of this year’s E3, the new Nintendo Revolution/Wii controller, which caught everyone’s eye when it was first unveiled (reLink), has caught on in a unique way. I thought we’d hear more divisive comments, but so far I’m hearing mostly positive reviews. More importantly, Hengeveld raises the point that some people are so impressed by the device’s ease of use that it might lower the useability barrier which I have little doubt keeps many potential users from trying anything 3D; effectively limiting them to the simpler offerings. For all we know, the growth in “casual games” owes something to this issue. I suspect to some small degree that it might.
The thing that occurs to me is that Nintendo may have something that shares qualities with another rather famous piece of hardware: the iPod. Their controller, if it lives up to some reports, may jump from their inexpensive console to other platforms and become a cash cow. It’d be like owning the entire computer mouse industry. The PC is an obvious option, but might we see one for the Playstations (all of them) or the XBox’s (both of them) – especially if the controller alone reinvigorates the play of old games? Could it affect game UI design on, for example, and XBox 360 if the developer knows players have this Nintendo controller? And where else could this device’s DNA migrate? Talk about disruptive – I can imagine some pretty interesting potential mashups should the hype prove to be all that.