This past weekend, I found myself going to downtown LA for the WiiU Experience. Disclaimer: My Wii is basically a Netflix/Hulu Plus machine at this point, and I never go to downtown LA.
I was pretty stoked, though, as I’m a fan of “experiences” in general, and it gave me an excuse to test out my suddenly retro 4S’s Apple-Maps-fueled GPS. That’s about as exciting and dangerous as my life gets these days, but I digress.
Just a block or two from star-covered sidewalks, I went up to this weird parking lot-warehouse thing. A few people trickled in, seemingly split 50/50 between gamers with optimistic looks on their faces and families with little littles.
After getting my pass (which I could sync with my Facebook account so I could share the experience with my friends!), and dodging the Facebook-registration kiosks, I walked into the tiniest warehouse I’d ever seen. A couple of rooms greeted me on either side, one for some karaoke game that I didn’t even bother getting the name of, and one for Nintendoland. In the middle of the room was a huge pillar with 4 giant TVs (presumably pointed north, south, east, and west), with more TVs sprinkled here and there, and a huge projection screen on the far side.
Anywho, they had Batman, shitloads of Nintendolands, a couple of Super Mario Wii U Extremes, or whatever it’s called, Rayman, and Wario. No Bayonetta 2, but that’s okay; that would have been too cool.
I didn’t get a lot of time with the games, and my pictures sucked, so I’m not going to focus too much on that stuff. I’m sure that there are better places to find out about hands-on time with the WiiU and the new controller (which is pretty sweet, I’ll admit. It’s like a thick tablet with joysticks on the side, and it worked.). I was more interested in the Experience.
Thing is, I didn’t get *that* impressed with the new console. It doesn’t really seem like a natural progression from the Wii, but maybe it is. There were a couple of times that I played a 5-player game, and if I had 4 friends that all lived in the same goddamn town, I’d probably be excited about that fact. It was cool, but not like so cool I wanted to drop my drawers and christen the controller or anything.
They had a woman manning the complimentary-concession stand, and she happily stood behind her little table, smiling as I pondered my choice between water and that weird blue all-natural soda. They had a couple of competitions while I walked around, but as one was for karaoke (which I don’t do sober) and a dancing game (which I don’t do while clothed), I didn’t join in the festivities.
Besides, I don’t know anyone in my neck of the woods that wanted to go out to the Experience with me. That gave me pause, and I looked around, trying to see if there was another like me. Another loner.
If there was, they were hiding or something, because all I saw were families and friends. Smiling together, laughing together, and having a grand ol’ time.
My crotchety ass is getting old. I gamed before it was a social thing, and I think I still fight it to this day. I’m slowly getting worn down, but these kids? You kids? Y’all grew up thinking that games were social. If I wanted to play games socially, I’d usually have to bring my own controller to someone’s house. Uphill in the snow. Both ways.
In MMOs, I was one of those guys that would start a guild for myself, kick out all of the people that just signed the charter, and then go back and fill up the guild bank with a bunch of shit that was too big of a pain in the ass to sell on the auction house.
So yeah, maybe I’m a little too antisocial when it comes to games to really get the WiiU Experience. Maybe all I see is throttled-tech masquerading as cutting-edge hardware because of my unwillingness to understand that the WiiU is simply another step in the social-gaming sphere. Maybe the WiiU Experience is really built on the act of gaming in a geographically small physical space. Like in the same room.
That might be why I was so excited about Batman. I thought that out of all of the games, this solitary game would give me the best chance of the MiiNotU Experience. Unfortunately, the Batman room was staffed by a girl, who I assumed was a retired-cheerleader, who couldn’t help but dance to the music outside while she showed the intricacies of the art of controlling Batman. The Dark Fucking Knight. But then having to squint when looking at the controller after looking at the giant 60-inch tv just made me feel like an old asshole.
I left, and after giving some surprisingly honest answers to the survey-kids outside (I mean seriously, they get paid for getting data. If their data is accurate, then they get hired again, so answer honestly, people.), drove away from those groups of families and groups of friends.
So maybe I get it. I really do. The system pumps out some nice visuals (I’ve always thought that Nintendo’s graphics felt “fuller” for whatever that’s worth), but I think it might be a system designed for people with friends.
If you have any of those, play away. Me? I’ll be too busy playing Torchlight 2 offline. And yelling at the kids playing in the street. Seriously. They’re so loud.