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GF! Mailbag
posted by: Matt James
date posted: 10:19 AM Sun Oct 16th, 2005
last revision: 03:04 PM Sun Oct 16th, 2005

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Click to read.With the big three getting ready to release their next generation consoles, it is no surprise that gamers are heatedly debating the future of gaming. The X-box 360 and Playstation 3 look set to raise the bar on gaming as we know it, but at the Tokyo Game Show Nintendo showed that they were planning on doing more than just that. Revolution is more than just a catchy name for Nintendo\'s new system. We ran a number of articles back and forthing Nintendo\'s big announcement, and we got some strong reactions. It\'s good to see you guys have opinions. Too bad so many are wrong.

David Sommars wrote:

dude, just read your article here:

First of all,

nintendo doesnt get anything except how to connect with 5-7 year olds.that controller thing is not innovation, its called a last resort before dying.....

gamers dont care about framerates? please, now more than ever consoles are competing with computers and framerates are everything in a first person/rendered game.

last time i checked nintendo got beat hands down by microsoft and sony....

if you just like nintendo better i understand, but to say they dont get it?

dude i dont think your getting it...


Shawn\'s reply:


Dude, no way - you\'re totally wrong. Let\'s count the ways:

> nintendo doesnt get anything except how to connect with 5-7 year olds.

Meh, this is not really an argument. Nintendo has plenty of Mature
rated titles, although overall fewer titles. Their all-ages titles are well-known and successful. Is that your beef? And it\'s not as if Sony and Microsoft have targeted more diverse demographics - both of those systems serve mainly 15-19 year old boys. We can\'t let games, like music and movies, be ruled by teenagers. And teenage boys are the easiest demographic to target: boobs, bombs, bloodshed - the game designs itself.

>that controller thing is not innovation, its called a last resort before dying.....

I don\'t think Nintendo is dying. They don\'t have the most popular home console in the US, but as a recent article on GF! reported, the
GameCube is still outselling Xbox in Japan, and Nintendo maintains a
stranglehold on the handheld industry. The company\'s financial records (available here: http://www.nintendo.com/corp/annual_report.jsp )indicate they have plenty of cash flow and corporate value. I think Nintendo can keep doing whatever they want with a marginal amount of success for a long time yet to come. This is a 150 year old company; they aren\'t going away anytime soon.

>gamers dont care about framerates? please, now more than ever consoles arecompeting with computers and framerates are everything in a first person/rendered game.

Of course we want our games to work well. But the framerate my machine runs is only interesting insofar as it becomes a limit to my gameplay. If the game only requires two frames per second, then that\'s all I need to get from my box. If the game requires 60 fps for me to play it, well, then that\'s what I want. If you\'re the kind of gamer who enjoys running framerate benchmarks more than actually playing games, then we\'re very different kinds of gamers. Think about this, a framerate that hinders gameplay may be cited as a factor in making a game \"bad\", but in reviews of very good games, the framerate at which the game runs is often never mentioned.

>last time i checked nintendo got beat hands down by microsoft and sony....

Like I said, in the US home console market yes. But the Nintendo DS
pushed the portable gaming market over $1 Billion in 2004, and
Nintendo is by far the leader in that market (according to NPD
Funworld). And according to a 2004 CESA report, the GameCube sold more than 10 times the number of consoles in Japan as it did in America, and it still holds the second place position there.

>if you just like nintendo better i understand, but to say they dont get it?

I don\'t really prefer Nintendo to anyone else, although I do recognize their accomplishments in the gaming industry. I own all the platforms. And I will continue to do so. I play games because I like playing games. I don\'t really care what kind of hardware is used to make a great game -- as long as it\'s great.

>dude i dont think your getting it...


Thanks for writing,

I think Nintendo\'s biggest problem was that they lost the Koolness battle. Somehow, the Cube got deemed the uncool system to own. I think looking like a little purple purse was the first bad step. That shouldn\'t take away from a pretty strong system with a bunch of great games, but it does. Ask most people in the target demographic and they will probably tell you that the cube is lame (or something less PC). This is something that the revolution will likely have to overcome here in the states, not so much in Japan. Hopefully, Nintendo has figured out that teenage American boys don\'t want to be caught buying a system that looks like a female accessory.

Anthony Ambrosio wrote:

With all due respect, I don\'t think Nintendo gets it, nor do you get it.

\"Compared to the Revolution, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are simply expensive upgrades to existing platforms.\"

But that\'s exactly what most people want. I don\'t know if you\'ve noticed this but the Playstation 2 sales and Xbox sales aren\'t exactly hurting. Where has there been any evidence in the marketplace that consumers are tired of existing games or existing genres. Nintendo is not developing games that consumers want they\'re developing games and systems that they think their consumers should want. Nintendo\'s president speaks of consumers being unhappy with games, while the industry is still growing rapidly year over year. Nintendo is developing for a climate they claim exists, but does not in reality. The incredibly innovative Revolution controller is not going to go over well in America with the biggest most important 3rd party game publishers or with consumers who want sequels, movie licenses, and only the game genres they are used to. You can\'t have much of a console without the most important 3rd party publishers and why would most successful 3rd party publishers have any interest in rocking the boat anyway. What Nintendo is trying to do is to carve out a little niche for themselves inside of the game industry. They are not going to be competitive with mainstream systems like Xbox and Playstation.

\"A \"next\" generation requires a significant change in gaming itself.
Gamers care about hardware and hardware generations only insofar as those generations mark major changes in the way games are made and played.\"

A new generation of consoles does not require significant change in gaming. The 16-bit era and the last generation (\"128-bit\" gen) did not change gaming significantly over their preceding generations. Consumers right now are looking for refinement in the entertainment they already love, they are not looking for a paradigm shift. If they were, the industry would be currently faltering, but it\'s not. Current and next-generation games are still extremely primitive and there is much room left for refinement before there is any need to completely change the way games are made and played. Gamers want PS3 and XB360 games with amazing visuals and bigger levels with more detail, they don\'t want weird bongo drum games. There is no evidence in the marketplace to support this theory of yours.

Here is how Shawn responded:


Thanks for your letter. Obviously you care more about market values
and money than games, which I think puts you squarely on the \"other\"
side of things. I addressed that group in my article, and I repeat my
plea to you directly: Stop ruining games.

If you desire to play the same games as the 15 year olds who rule game
development in spite of the actual demographic, then by all means,
have a great time doing it. I\'ll play something else.


By Anthony\'s logic why even release the PS3 or the 360. Like he pointed out, the X-box and PS2 are selling fine. So why aspire to anything more. If the only thing that game developers worked towards were better graphics and bigger levels then the only video game we would have to play is the biggest, prettiest, Pong game ever.

Ok, one more on the subject.

barry levine wrote:

Yeah, that magic wand thing probably is the future of gaming. what?

it sees like it\'ll have all the LOS issues of wireless, plus all the
frustration of trying to play Street Fighter II with that one handed
SNES controller, plus the button issues of the GameCube, plus the
storage issues of the.. er, GameCube... and the \"oh I hope nobody
sees me playing\" factor of the U-Force... not to mention the most
idiotic button naming in the history of videogaming. It might have
made a cute add-on prepherial, but the main controller of the NES
wasn\'t the ROB. To quote one user from a forum I frequent, \"That makes about as much sense as the BONGOS being the GC\'s default controller\".

To even use the phrase \"the future of gaming\" is, to put it mildly, a
bit of a fallacy. Here, let me illustrate why this is a ridiculous
phrase that means nothing: Virtual Boy. Yes, I went there. But, er,
moving beyond that--

The Jaguar came out in 1993. It was 64 bit-- well, \"multiple\" bit at
least - and featured controllers with over fifteen buttons. Both of
these features were touted in gaming publications of the time as \"the
FUTURE of gaming\". The Atari Jaguar left a huge cloud of debris as it
sputtered into the ground - the image I have in mind is something like when you shoot a tank in AIRCARS and it starts leaving a trail of hideous grey balls.

Or how about the Atari 5200? Analog joysticks for the first time! The
future of gaming... was with computing (for a couple years, at least).

The Intellivision had the disk. The Odyssey ^2 had the keyboard.
Looking back, even fans of the Inty will admit that the controllers
are not an absolute pleasure to work with. Sure, with a disk you had
many more directions than a 2600 joystick. Did it matter? Like it or
not, intuitive-ness plays a factor in game design, and, yes, sadly,
one thing that makes a game intuitive is if it controls like other

What about the games? I remember a game that was supposed to be the
\"future of gaming\". BattleCruiser 3000 AD. Wasn\'t Tresspasser supposed to bring us to the future of gaming with the individual-finger hand controls? Dragon\'s Lair and laserdisc games? How about Sega\'s holographic arcade game? Why am I not a space pirate with giant boobs pressing \"left\" to walk to the left wing of my mansion in a holographic world? Moreover, why did every single one of these games completely suck?

The \"future\" of gaming is much like the \"future\" of computing - do the basics, make it bigger, faster, and prettier. If a striking idea comes along, work on it, if your staff is sitting around coding tech demos and one of them hits upon something innovative and catchy, build a game around it. Otherwise, it\'s not so much about leading the pack as it is coming together as a pack, pouncing on a single idea, and fiercely making it bigger.faster.better.harder.sexier, until DOOM becomes Half Life and WarCraft II becomes Age of Empires (although I must admit I hate that game and find StarCraft to be the cream of the RTS crop, kthx) .

Granted, I personally feel that this philosophy is a bit outdated -
between 1990 and 2000 we went from 386s, VGA, and 9600 baud modems, to Pentium Funnynamiums and Athlong Bignumbers with graphic cards heavy enough to hurt your foot, with fiberoptics holding the checkered flag of PC-PC access - from sprite graphics to AutoCAD flavored texture maps - and game companies have largely focused on learning the intricacies of the new technology. But whether or not the developers ever kick back and relax, and focus on churning out budget prices labors of love (MetropoliaMania, Eggmania, and of course Katamari Damarcy come to mind) will probably depend on whether or not the budgets of the average crew-cutted WWF-watchin\' hype-fueled 13 year old will ever be dwarfed by the eclectic college audience. Somehow I doubt this, and somehow I figure that the most innovative software we\'ll see will be the $9.99-$29.99 budget/semi-budget titles. And, to bring things around full circle, when two companies are using a widespread standard input method, and one has this (pardon me) absolutely retarded magic wand attached to a, er, \"rabbit\" (cough), it seems like the question of which consoles will see the Katamari Damarcies of the next generation is a no brainer.

More succitently - the \"future of gaming\" is a DVD remote in one hand, a Bally Astrocade controller in the other? Okay, you have your future, I\'m going to retrogame - and, no, not on the Revolution.

Anyhow. I\'m sure you get lots of email, since your article was
featured on GoogleNews for a brief few moments, and the days where a
blogger or the staff of any new startup web-publication eagerly
replied to each and every email in a thoughtful / thought provoking
manner are probably behind us. In any case, in case you decide to take the time from your day to throw me a reply, I\'d love to discuss this issue with you, and name drop videogames as we do so, so long as you aren\'t easily offended by possible strong language and maybe me calling you a dipshit at some point in the future.

Take care

Man, this guy nailed us. Not only did he say a bunch of silly things but then he dropped the dipshit bomb, right on our heads. BOOM! The way he reacted you\'d think that he was afraid the Revolution was gonna sneak into his house at night, murder his X-box, and rape him with it\'s magic wand. So the Virtua Boy failed, big deal. Shit happens and that shit happened a long time ago. Do you honestly think that every single endeavor that Microsoft or Sony have partaken in was a success? Don\'t be foolish. If you want to sight Nintendo\'s track record, your gonna have to put it in the plus column. The NES and Gameboy alone have earned them that.

Diligent as ever, Shawn even took time to reply to this guy.


No, no, no, please OH PLEASE don\'t let the future of GAMING be as you
describe it:

>much like the \"future\" of computing - do the basics, make it bigger, faster, and prettier.

*snore* ack! Sorry, I fell asleep there for a moment.

UGH! Games are things you interact with for pleasure, joy, emotional
experiences. Computers are tools you use to do things. Computers are
the most boring things in the world, aside from the things they allow
us to do, because we already have lives full of things we want to do,
and we\'ll use whatever hardware necessary to achieve those goals.

And that\'s really the problem, isn\'t it: Too many people think that if it makes money it must be good. Hollywood makes money. Is that good? Spam makes money. Ripping off old folks for their pensions can make loads of money for some fuckwad. \"The bottom line\" is not a critical evaluation and is influenced by far more than the quality of the product, which is but one of many factors in the number of sales. Who do you work for?

If you want to play the same game but with prettier pictures every
year, that\'s fine; you can watch the same movie at your cineplex every summer and you can listen to the same song every day on the radio, too. And me and my friends will have our satisfying alternative media experiences and we\'ll feel superior to you. Which will probably make you feel jealous. So all we have to say is: Don\'t overdo it on the hard liquor. Hard Liq\'s make people wanna fight, and we\'re definitely not fighters.

Oh, and in case you haven\'t yet bothered to read up on the history of
the Internet, GamesFirst! was one of the original gaming websites,
founded in 1995 and moving to its own domain in 1996. I\'ve been with
the site since 1998. We\'re not a blog; we\'re an independent videogame
magazine. And Google News regularly indexes our articles (but they do
spell our name wrong so you have to search for \"Games First, NY\"), as
do many other sites including GameTab, Game Daily, Game Rankings, and
Rotten Tomatoes. And I do reply to emails. So nyah.


Not only did you reply to him, but he made it into the mailbag. So double nyah. I\'ll probably have more on the subject for the next mailbag. I\'d like to move on now to something more fun.

moosehuff wrote:
Santa is thinking of bringing my kids an XBOX. I don\'t want it hooked to the TV in the living room, so I need to get another one. What size do I need and what kind of jacks, inputs and other stuff does it need?

I am really tired of writing, \"Shawn\'s reply was:\" so...

Aaron\'s reply was:


I\'m glad to hear that Santa is being so generous. I\'m sure your kids will love the Xbox. As for the size of the TV, any will do. It\'s more a matter of preference. A small TV will work just as well as a large TV, but just be smaller. Something to consider, though, is whether or not your kids will want to play games together (they probably do). In which case, a bigger TV is better, because many two-player games divide the TV in half, letting one player see his character on the left, and the other on his right. Really small screens would be harder for that to work really well, though I know people that do it.

If I had were forced to name a number, I\'d say 19\" is a pretty good bet.

Really, it\'s just a matter of preference and budget. I\'m pretty sure any TV will make them happy, as long as there\'s an Xbox attached to it.

As for cords, the Xbox comes with standard RCA connections (three wires - red, yellow, and white), but you can also get an adapter that lets the Xbox plug into an RF input (the thing that your TV cable probably plugs into). Those adapters run between $10 and $20.

I hope that helps. Best of luck, and feel free to e-mail us again if you have any more questions.

Best of luck,


Here\'s my two cents: If their TV is too small, they will just keep begging you to hook it up to the bigger TV. I grew up in house with five boys and it was a constant debate (and one the adults rarely won).

We will be back soon with more of your letters. So, keep them coming.

Matt \"resisting the size does matter joke\" James

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