“Everybody loves the Wii. ‘Oh, God, the Wii, we love the Wii so much’… The Wii is a piece of shit,” Chris Hecker, the sarcastic Technology Fellow at Maxis/Electronic Arts, told the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. He complained that the Wii is underpowered and that Nintendo doesn’t know how to make artistic games.
Oddly, the next day, during a presentation about the Spore animation system, he retracted his comments:
“I was trying to be thought provoking and entertaining and fun, and a lot of the stuff went too far over the top on the entertaining and fun side, so that it was no longer thought provoking, just inflammatory. And in the process I hurt a bunch of people I care about. And so, I want to apologize now,” said Hecker. He also congratulated Nintendo on producing an innovative game controller and user interface, and on the Wii’s low price.
His original speech, which contained the word “shit” several times, offered a lot of interesting insights. The highlights being that:
- The Wii is made by taping two GameCubes together with duct tape
- The Wii is a “piece of shit underpowered computer”
- Nintendo doesn’t care about games being an art form, because it doesn’t mention “art from” on its web site.
His advice to Nintendo was that: “Number one: recognized and push games as a serious art form. Number two: make a console that doesn’t suck ass.”
According to his conference bio, Heckler is an “outspoken advocate for pushing the current boundaries of design and interactivity, in the hope that games will achieve their full potential as an art and entertainment form”. Hmmm…
It’s well and good for Hecker to talk about games being an art form, but at the end of the day the games industry is a business.
The technological specifications of a games console need to be balanced against the cost implications to the end user. It’s a balance that’s sometimes hard to get right, as is evidenced by the high-powered, but troubled PlayStation 3. Sure, Nintendo might not be as powerful as the PlayStation 3, but its nifty controller has allowed developers to come up with some really fun games.
Next time Hecker feels tempted to lash out about games needing to be an art form, he might try to remember that it’s fun that sells games, not art or processing power.