4 May, 2006
Yeah, I know about the Wii. I usually don’t post about these types of things because everyone else posts about it. I figure people come here because they like something a little offbeat.
But I can’t ignore it anymore. Jeff Freeman commented on an article that points to some reactions to the name. It’s amazing that some people are just being dumb about the whole thing. Seriously, is a name like Wii really worth all the hate? Don’t people see this is, in all seriousness, a brilliant marketing move?
The furor over the name is much ado over nothing. Yeah, it’s a silly-sounding name. So are most console names, really. “PlayStation” sounds like a brand name for teledildonics (link not safe for work; oh, and you’re welcome); Chris Charla in the Gamasutra article correctly pointed out that “PlayStation” wasn’t welcomed with open arms when it was introduced all those years ago. How easily we forget. “XBox” sounds like all that “TO THE XTREME!” crap we put up with that only ever impressed dumb teenagers, it just needs a number related to rotation to make it TOO L33T FOR WORDS! (Oh, wait… Maybe Nintendo should have called it the GameCube 2π?) Only the “GameCube” sounded reasonable in the last generation of consoles, but it was too pedestrian and too boring.
I’m a bit surprised at people saying the name is a stupid marketing move. I can’t read any gaming-related news site without about a third of the stories talking about the Wii. That means Nintendo got their name in the press a few weeks before E3 starts. I consider that a pretty major marketing coup, especially since Sony probably wanted to start hyping PS3 news during this time. Now they can’t, because everyone’s fixated on how “stupid” a name Nintendo chose. Plus, it was pointed out in the Gamasutra article that the announcement lets them focus on the games during E3 instead of the name.
The bigger issue here is that developers don’t like Nintendo for various reasons. If you read Ernest Adam’s response in the Gamasutra article, one can infer by his tone that he didn’t like the console originally. He states that the term “wee” has the connotation of being insignificant, but I argue that’s only for things that you don’t like: a “wee hurricane” is insignificant. When you talk about something you actually do like, such as a “wee orphan puppy” or a “wee kitten”, it takes on connotations of something dear, precious, and to be protected. The name is almost like an litmus test, where your preconceived notions determine what you think about the name. People that didn’t particularly like the console to begin with, surprise!, don’t like the name much, either.
Unfortunately, this once again shows how many game developers simply don’t understand the business side of things as much as they should. Marketing is hard, but getting this many people to talk about your product is great. So, now that people are paying attention to the Wii, it will be so much easier to show off the games. One can speculate if this whole thing was intentional or accidental, but the result was still brilliant.
In the end, I don’t think it will mater much. Casual gamers will appreciate the short and friendly name. The hard-core living in mom’s basement can continue calling it the “Revolution” since they are not mature enough to stop thinking about urine or genitals while saying the name. (*giggle*) Those of us able to pull our minds out of the gutter for a few seconds realize this name has other, positive connotations, too; “whee!” indicates having fun (again a positive connotation), and “we” (first person, plural pronoun) has connotations of inclusion which a console with mass-market aspirations surely needs.
The real question here is still how fun the controllers and how well the games will be received. After all, isn’t fun and games what we’re really talking about here? It could be called the “Nintendo Root Canal Rapist” and I’d still buy it if it had great games. (Okay, maybe I’d just call it the “Nintendo RCR” while buying it, though.)
So, here’s my challenge to all the developers that are embarassed to order a “Nintendo wee” like Ernest is. Go to your local game shop and ask for the “Nintendo WHEEEEEE!” instead. And, when you say the name, throw up your arms and run around like a kid without a care in the world. If you can’t do that, then perhaps you’ve outgrown the industry you once loved?
My thoughts on the whole thing.