Gaming gets sociable with Nintendo’s Wii U

The Wii U promises to change the relationship between us and our TVs

10 Dec 2012


Your better half is normally right about most things but when she tells you video games are for kids, and kids only, she really is way off the mark.

Wii U
The argument has been rolled out by neglected gaming widows for decades, and back in the blocky 16-bit days of the Mega Drive and SNES they did have a point.

Gaming used to be a pretty anti-social hobby, wrapping you up in its world of power-ups and gold rings for long, solitary sessions as your exasperated partner said goodbye to another promised Saturday afternoon shopping trip.

But that was before a new breed of consoles burst onto the scene, changing the face of gaming and turning it from the pursuit of bedroom loners to the most gregarious of social creatures.

Spearheading this revolution was Nintendo's Wii, which turned quiet relatives with serious joypad aversions into mean, lean gaming machines - with a penchant for heckling, too. With the revolutionary motion-control Wii remote in hand, grandma could throw virtual golf swings on par with Tiger Woods while mocking you for missing the ball (again).

The console has sold almost 100 million, inspiring a generation of gamers and flipping the geeky stereotype on its head. Think pensioners accessorising bus passes and blue rinses with the Wii remote, and yummy mummies squeezing in a Wii Fit workout before the school run.

Now Nintendo is at it again with the Wii U, a console more sociable than a D list celeb with a perfume to promote.
Much of this centres on the revolutionary tablet-like GamePad controller and its redefining of multiplayer gaming. In the Seventies, Canned Heat donned questionable flares and nasty leather waistcoats to sing 'come on, come on let's work together' and the Wii U has followed the advice; thankfully swerving the dodgy clobber.

As well as playing against one another in traditional style utilising the Wii U's motion controls, games such as Nintendo Land see friends and family put differences aside and work towards common goals. The new approach to multiplayer gaming has been branded 'asymmetric' and is changing how we interact with games. The result is a party on a plate, once the unpleasantness of establishing who gets the GamePad has passed.

Just one player gets to use the GamePad while others are handed original Wii remotes. Those who fancy themselves as mean, moody and magnificent, the Clint Eastwood of their gang, will be keen to grab the tablet controller as it offers a different gaming experience from the minions with regular controllers. With the GamePad you'll see the action from a different perspective to everyone else thanks to its touchscreen, as well as shouldering different responsibilities.

Wii U games include Super Mario Bros U, Assassin's Creed 3 and Call Of Duty: Black Ops, so there's plenty of variety, while you also have the option of playing your old Wii games on it too.

The Wii U promises to change the relationship between us and our TVs. To this end, its touchscreen controller can also be used for self-contained gaming sessions when playing alone. This'll be a godsend if you're forever being dragged from your virtual world by a finger-wagging wife with an appointment on Albert Square.

But as we keep saying, the Wii U is never happier than when among friends. Enter Miiverse, a virtual social networking hub for you to hang and shoot the breeze with likeminded souls. Like a Facebook for the world of Wii, Miiverse allows you to post questions, trade tips or just plain chat about your other half's newfound love of gaming.
Yep, you heard us right.

Her newfound love of gaming.We know this started with her insistence gaming was for kids, but we didn't call the Wii U revolutionary for nothing.

With family-friendly asymmetric play offering the potential for 'quality time' and touchscreen technology virtually handing her control of the remote for good, what's there not to like?

But this won't happen overnight, and if she's still holding out win her over with a chick flick courtesy of the Wii U's built-in Netflix, or laugh her into submission with Gangnam Style videos via the YouTube app.

The Wii U - entertainment for kids and big kids, for girlfriends and grown-ups. Entertainment for everyone.