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Can the Wii U heal the split between TV and tablets?
Can the Wii U heal the split between TV and tablets?
November 27, 2012 | By Staff

November 27, 2012 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Design

"If earlier Nintendo systems made video games safe for homes and families, the Wii U turns the tables: it attempts to make the current trends in the internet and consumer electronics safe for video games."

In a thoughtful new piece, professor Ian Bogost takes a look at Nintendo's new console, the Wii U. While many would-be prognosticators have tried to discuss the system's potential for success, and "reviewers" have graded it, Bogost instead tries to divine what Nintendo is both attempting to do and has actually succeeded at doing.

Its defining feature is, of course, the second screen on its GamePad controller. Bogost considers it as a response to the dual-screen lives many live today, torn between watching TV and interacting with tablets and phones.

"The sensation of being split between the television and the handheld computer feels strange and awkward. But isn't this precisely how all of us feel today, all the time?" Bogost writes. "If the Wii attached to television's past, the Wii U couples to its present."

Thanks to the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, argues Bogost, "the strange, uncomfortable space between the two" -- watching TV, interacting with the internet -- has become a default mode, if an uneasy one, for many.

"Like a lap only appears when you sit down, this weird interstitial space only exists when we activate both sorts of devices. It's not a two-screen experience, but a no-screen experience."

He argues, then, that Nintendo is not remotely attempting the same thing it did with the Wii -- making games accessible -- but instead navigating these choppy new waters. Can Nintendo heal the split between the screens?

"If earlier Nintendo systems made video games safe for homes and families, the Wii U turns the tables: it attempts to make the current trends in the internet and consumer electronics safe for video games. It's the first earnest, sustained, hardware-invested example of such an effort, and it's full of risk and danger."

The full analysis -- which also takes in launch indie title Little Inferno and thoughtfully critiques Nintendo Land -- is live now on Gamasutra.

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Bob Johnson
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Nintendo has experimented with 2 screens before. IT's not new to them even though the Ipad came out a few years.

They did the Zelda 4 Swords thing back in the GC era. They did Pac VS too. Then had 2 screens on the DS.

And presumably they started working on the Wii U before the Ipad even came out.

Joe Zachery
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If you haven't used the Wii U Gamepad, and is not a married person with kids. You can never really understand what this could mean when it comes to home entertainment. If my all my Wii U games were on a hard drive that I could play off of. I would never have to leave my lazy boy or bed. When it comes to my TV, and gaming console. The Gamepad is a real universal controller. That controls my TV, Cable box, and video game console. Then allows me to use Youtube, go to Facebook, and Twitter. This is with out the Nintendo Tvii software that will integrate DVR and other features. The only downfall currently is being the battery in the pad. It's Apple Tv with out having to buy a Ipad, Iphone, or Apple TV. It's a smart Tv with spending 1000 dollars. You can do everything for just 299.99! The only thing it doesn't do is control my stereo system. Throw in Nintendo made games that still are the best in the industry. A library of past console games, and the new indie market. This can really be the system that has it, and does it all.

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@Joe I think this is the biggest Point of the Wii U, and like I said in a post on another article, I didn't even realize this myself until I plugged the thing in and got stuff going. I find it so hilarious that I haven't even really used my 46'" HD Sony Bravia to view a game running from it yet, and yet I really have no issues with that. I know the option is there when I want to.

Bob Allen
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"If earlier Nintendo systems made video games safe for homes and families". Heh. Heh. A lot of flatscreens and ceiling fans would disagree with that sentiment.

Paul Marzagalli
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I'll be interested to see how MS evolves Smartglass. They certainly seem to feel there's a lot of potential there, too.

David Holmin
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My guess is they won't be able to get the same low latency I/O that Wii U has, if the plan is to use general purpose tablets for Smartglass. Also, there's the problem that not everbody gets a tablet with the console, so developers won't feel inclined to make games that require the tablet. Like how Kinect is only used for optional voice control in the big games.

wes bogdan
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Well i talked to someone @ ninty and they confirmed that scribinaughts like mario displays the same content on the hdtv and pad and she found herself looking @ the pad over the tv.

Myself i would expect the pad to either : a display and do something different like the ds and 3 ds nsmb extra power up if the wii u didn't detect the hdcp handshake letting it know whether the system was displaying on the hdtv or if just the pad and b integrate the gameplay if simply using the pad so the switch power up would find it's way to x or y perhaps both.

As for battery if a game simply displays the same thing as the hdtv it's a waste of resources and should simply be off concerving juce rather than tech demmo mode hardware not really being fully utilized for more than a money shot/wow factor.

For some reason my amazon video workes but netflix and hulu freeze upon booting and i need to unplug the system.

Yes all updating has been done and it's still not fully functional while you tube simply keeps loading at least i can get back to the start scree.