January 31, 2013 by dbtg5
Complexity is often a selling point for avid gamers: hardware, software, characters, controls, storyline… the list continues. It’s an understandable desire, since complexity is impressive in the world of technology, and the competitive quality of the market naturally pits game developers against each other.
But the world of gaming wasn’t always complex, and anyone who grew up with a first or second generation game console is painfully aware. Controllers had less buttons, games had fewer colors and environments, and the only extra accessories you needed were joysticks. That simplicity, in some ways, seems out of date, but in other ways it makes me wonder what we’ve lost in striving too hard to have “bigger and badder” systems. Fortunately, developers are finding ways to continue innovating while simultaneously drawing inspiration from the minimalism of the past.
The Re-emergence Of Simplicity
By the dawn of the 2000s, video game developers were constantly scrambling over each other to launch the biggest, most complex, most add-on friendly console and related software they could make. The logic was that gamers who have lots of options to choose and enjoy will buy more products. On one hand, you can’t fault their reasoning. Gamers are an audience constantly lusting after the latest and greatest materials. Naturally, they’d be drawn to collecting the biggest, widest selection of games and gaming peripherals.
The Nintendo Wii helped to punctuate the fault in that line of thinking, and provide evidence that simplicity is a better route for game development. Its model is basic and white, its controllers have only a few selected buttons, many of its games are minimalistic yet still highly entertaining, and even its name is boiled down to only three letters. It’s a move that upset a lot of “hardcore” gamers, but won over a larger audience with its forward thinking.
Nintendo’s Development Consolidation
In an effort to increase simplicity, Nintendo is looking to consolidate its previously separated Wii U and 3DS development teams. It may seem like an unimportant or irrelevant move on the surface, but the deeper reasoning behind the transition helps illuminate a future direction the gaming industry is likely to pursue. Nintendo understands that evolving technology means utilizing fewer devices, not a greater number of them, and is hoping to streamline its products and innovations into one, glorious pool. Time will tell how well the transition is received, but consumer trends indicate that kind of technological efficiency will do well.