It's amazing how these things go. I was looking at my blog, and thinking I should update it with some more non-Nintendo topics to balance things out... and then this week happened, we got a veritable plethora of Wii U related news, and now here I am. It's 3am in the morning, and I'm writing another Nintendo blog. Go figure.
Anyways... I find communities amazing. You can really tell how important something is by the community that surrounds it. And if I've noticed anything this week on Destructoid, it's that Nintendo is a pretty important company.
It's not been a great week for Nintendo. Let's be honest here. We're still waiting for Wii U sales to pick up, still waiting for the heavy hitters to get revealed. Today's (or indeed, yesterday's) Direct didn't show us much we weren't already aware of. Nintendo have been vilified for their stance on Lets Players and ad revenue, criticised for patching out gay marriage in one of their games. And to crown it all, EA dropped the bombshell that they haven't got any Wii U games in the works.
Ultimately, I think that's going to end up hurting EA far more than it will hurt Nintendo, a company who have proven time and again they don't need anyone's games but their own in order to make a profit. But in the short term, it's still a kick in the teeth for those of us wanting to see the Wii U's fortunes pick up. I don't think I've ever seen a new console with so many enticing, exciting exclusives get shat on so readily by the rest of the industry. But that leads into the point I already touched on- you can tell a company's worth, I think, by how readily the community steps in to support it when things are looking down. I don't mean in a mindless Apple-herd mentality sort of way. I mean when a community steps in to point out all the good that a company has done, all the good memories that their products have fostered, all the happiness and joy they've brought. Nobody steps in to defend EA anymore. Their legacy is carved in stone, and they look set to ride it all the way into an industry crash. No-one seems to feel the need to come out in overwhelming support of Microsoft, or Activision, or Ubisoft. Those are all cold, unfeeling corporate entities, with a naked love of cash and increased share prices.
And yet with Nintendo, people always seem ready to come out and link arms together around the company. Whether its recounting how Nintendo single-handedly dragged the videogame industry forwards after the crash of 83. Or the quotes from Miyamoto about how a delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is bad forever. Or just reminiscing over the best Nintendo games, those fabled experiences where we all realised just how extraordinary the medium of games could be. There's a sense of shared joy around Nintendo that I don't see many places else in gaming. We're all too used to ripping each other apart over the consoles we like, the game franchises we like, the genres we like... but on this site at least, Nintendo seem to be that rare common bond where gamers of different stripes can come together and celebrate a universal love of videogames. And with that in mind, I thought I'd share one of my memories that is responsible for planting in me such a respect for Nintendo.
It's regarding the Wii. A console often vilified or patronised by the traditional hardcore, a console many see as one of Nintendo's lesser offerings despite its phenomenal sales. Because there's something that the Wii managed, something Nintendo managed to pull off, which I feel doesn't get talked about enough. Something which created a profound change in the medium: Nintendo changed the entire dialogue surrounding games. In fact, they didn't just change the dialogue itself. They changed the very people who were taking part in it.
Before the Wii, gamers were gamers, and non-gamers were non-gamers. If I wanted to talk about videogames, I'd have to talk to my fellow nerdy gaming friends. And as much as I love talking games with them, that's a pretty insular conversation to have. But when the Wii came out, that conversation changed completely. All of a sudden, I was talking to hot girls at high school about videogames. Hot girls happily playing the likes of Zelda, or Wii Sports, or Kirby. I was talking to friends' parents about games. Hell, I once talked to a friend's grandparents about games, simply because the Wii had finally introduced them to the concept in a way they understood.
Nintendo made it possible for grandparents to get videogames. The Wii was the Babelfish, the universal translator that got people to finally understand what the deal is with games. When has anything like that ever occurred in the industry before.
As an Englishman, and inhabitant of the fair, verdant lands of the United Kingdom, there's one example that particularly stands out to me- Nintendo turned the Queen of England into a gamer.
I'll say it again: Nintendo turned her Majesty the Queen of England into a gamer.
That's not hyperbole. Queen Elizabeth received a Wii from one of her relatives, and apparently loved the hell out of Wii Sports. She loved it enough that THQ presented her with her own gold plated console.
Just think about the implications of that. Videogames have always had an image problem. They've always been that hobby that's corrupting the youth, inspiring the massacres, turning the children gay and making them worship Satan. Even today, news companies like FOX or Sky happily demonise games to push their own agenda. No other game company has yet broken that image of videogames as gore-happy murder simulators. Possibly because many of them are too busy developing gore-happy murder simulators. But Nintendo not only managed to transcend that stereotype, they turned videogames into something that could be enjoyed by everyone, something so inclusive that even the Queen of England had no problem with being a gamer.
That, more than anything else, sums up for me why Nintendo will always be that company worth defending. Even if I don't agree with everything they do, even if I think they're perhaps sliding in certain areas, or not keeping with the times in other areas, things like this are the reason I will always step in and stick up for Nintendo when corporate hacks at EA start flinging shit. Because totally regardless of software sales, completely ignoring marketshare or profit margins, Nintendo has done more than EA could ever hope to achieve when it comes to proving the worth of videogames as a valid medium. They are the champion always riding out proudly waving the videogame banner. Sometimes they'll stumble. Maybe once or twice they'll be knocked out of the saddle. But they will always get back up and wave that banner ever more proudly, and carry on riding forwards towards the sunrise.
And it gives me a sense of warmth to know that I share that with other members of the DTOID community. To know that no matter what new crap EA is pulling, no matter how much Capcom is trying to fleece its customers, no matter how much we lament the fall of Square, we'll all be there, voting in our hundreds for the Wii U version of Resident Evil Revelations to be reviewed, celebrating a new Sonic game being developed for the console, looking forward to Pikmin 3 and Wonderful 101. I've had my differences with the DTOID community in the past, and I think when it comes to things like feminism in games the majority and I will always share a difference of opinion. But I'm glad that on this site at least, I share a common admiration for the biggest and oldest videogame company out there.
In the spirit of this blog, I'd love if any readers could share some of their fondest Nintendo memories as well. Things may be rough down the road for the company, and they've got a difficult path to cross, but let's share some goodwill and remind ourselves what it is we love about the Big N.