2007 Creativity Award Winner: The Nintendo Wii

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It seems like an eternity, but it wasn't all that long ago that the name Nintendo garnered only sneers and raised eyebrows from any gamer over the age of 12. The House That Mario Built was long past the salad days of the '80s and early '90s, ceding much of its videogame dominance first to Sega, then to the PlayStation and Xbox. The Nintendo GameCube console, released in 200, looked like a toy and was treated as such by most serious gamers. So when the parade of "next generation" chatter began, most anticipation was reserved for what Sony and Microsoft would unleash next. But then a funny thing happened. Starting with bits of online buzz and building to a deafening crescendo by the 2006 E3 Expo, the hype for Nintendo's seventh game console was overshadowing its competitors. The Wii had landed.

The first thing that strikes you about the Wii is the way it looks. The slick, small unit has replaced the Duplo-inspired look of the GameCube. The designers have said they were looking to put the Wii's design somewhere between a toy and a piece of high-tech AV equipment, and by the looks of it, mission accomplished. The next big WTF moment comes when you spot the controllers. Is it a joystick? Is it a TV remote? Turns out it's all that and more. Again, utilizing clean-lined, smooth design with top-shelf performance, the Wii remotes manage to look foreign but feel familiar. Remote designer Shigeru Miyamoto told Nintendo's European site his aim was to design something people would want to pick up and try. Done and done.

There are many great aspects of the Wii—the compact, sleek design, the unprecedented use of infrared technology, the ability to bowl ten frames at 3 a.m. wearing nothing but gitch and a smile. But perhaps the most innovative step Nintendo took was instead of trying to compete on the same playing field with Sony and Microsoft, it decided to change the game. Those controllers don't just look and feel different, Nintendo decided to take the use of infrared tech in gaming further than ever before, allowing users real-time, real-action control where they've never had it before. Tossing a bowling ball doesn't require a unique directional pad and button combo–—just move your body as if you're tossing a real bowling ball. It sounds so simple, but by applying this control concept to games ranging from simple bowling, to Madden football, to World War II franchise Call of Duty, the Wii has changed the way gamers, hardcore and casual alike, play. Developers also utilized a smaller chip for the console, eschewing the traditional engineering goal of simply more horsepower— to limit power consumption and allow Wii to be on 24 hours a day, yet still maintain high performance. This seemingly lo-fi approach extended to some of the game graphics, which can initially look straight outta 1985, except developers allowed users to create and play games with Mario-esque versions of themselves, courtesy of the Mii feature. By creating an aesthetically pleasing console that provides proactive, inclusive gaming fun for users of every age and ability level, Nintendo has shaken up the gaming landscape and opened up this billion-dollar industry beyond the traditionally dominant 15-35-year-old male demographic and into a new frontier. Something it hasn't done since once upon a time introducing the world to a pudgy mustachioed plumber.
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