Is it just Mii, or does experience matter?
Yes, I just happened upon a Wii the other day (and by "happened upon" I mean waited in line for 45mins at a Best Buy last Sunday). The verdict? Pretty cool. I've been a fan of gaming since my Dad's Atari - you know the kind that took the 5 1/4 discs (remember those kids?). But what's different this time, then the other 10+ gaming machines I'm sure I've owned over the years - it's not just about the graphics, it's about the experience. And by what the press is saying and lack of Wii's in the wild, I'd say it's working for Nintendo. "Businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers" (via the Experience Economy"), and that's just what Nintendo set out to do. In fact if you visit wii.com, you might expect marketing slogans, demos, flash games - but what you get are Experiences. The camera is turned on the gamers using the Wii, not the Wii itself. This is selling with just the experience.
How many products can you turn the camera on the users and get a equally impactful result? Maybe the first time someone uses a iPod? Or the first time someone gets into a Mini? How about when you found you could drag a map with Google (and talk about passion!). I've been saying for some time that the experiences we have today are greater then ever before, on and off the web. Mike Rundle had a recent post "The User Experience Bar Is Now Sky High", referring to the great round of advanced web applications on the horizon. As someone who creates web applications and strives for "a killer interaction design experience", not only do we as UX professionals need to look to the web, but there are so many great experiences off the web we need to compete with also.
As an example, every Wii has an email address and can send and receive email. That's pretty cool. But the UI for the email interface is something I've never really seen before. Is it the most efficient email app I've ever seen? No. Is it intuitive? Maybe. Does it extend the experience of the Wii? Yes. And now we'll have 4+ million kids using the Wii for email in the upcoming year, sending and receiving emails and photos to friends and family. So what happens when the next google/yahoo/Microsoft email client targeted at 8-18 is released and doesn't measure up to the Wii?
I've recently taught my two year old to use the computer (it's a Mac), and before understanding what the mouse was, he always wanted to touch the screen. If a two year old wants to touch the screen, then isn't that the most natural interaction? The Wii may let you feel like a kid again, bringing the sensation of "feeling" to your TV. It mimics your twists and turns as well as vibrates when you hit a ball into the outfield. It elicits feelings, and brings you into the experience like never before (at least not in the home...).
They also created a level of personalization with the Mii, a virtual you. Or a virtual anyone really. Already people are creating celebrities and political figures to insert into their games. How about boxing with George Bush? Or a scene from Big Lebowski with Wii bowling...
So when was the last time you actively sought out a new interaction? Are you taking into account all the interactions with designing interfaces? iPods, GPS Devices, PDAs, DVD players, Kiosks, Games, toys???
And... if you have a Wii post your friends number ;-)