By Mike Berlin
Technology is growing up, and with each new generation, our technological ineptitude becomes more and more apparent. Just think of the toys you used to play with as a kid. What ever happened to My Little Ponies or G.I.Joes? Remember those creepy trolls? They were kind of fun. Right? How about that big old cardboard box mom cut open to provide you with hours of imaginative fun while she was jazzercising?
The seasonal Sally Foster wrapping paper isn’t being torn off to reveal that precious, handcrafted dollhouse from Grandma or that Red Ryder BB Gun you’ve always wanted. No, the most impressive of packages contain the “Golden Ticket” of home entertainment: the Nintendo Wii or the PS3.
I wait for the inevitable day when my 12 year-old brother will be guiding my shaky hand through the new version of Windows XLVI or showing me how to access my email on a steering wheel.
For now I serve as the reigning authority of gadgets in my house. Many of you may feel the same. We’re heroes for our grandparents who think “google” is dirty slang or shudder at the mention of “email.” But that reign is dwindling as we watch our juniors bloom into iCulture where everything is a camera, an MP3 player, and a phone in one.
But for the sake of having an opinion while we still can, I present the latest technological grudge match in high-end gaming systems: Wii vs. PS3.
Gaming enthusiasts and savvy parents have spent numerous twilight hours in mall parking lots or thousands of dollars on eBay to stake their claim. Some have even gone a more primal route and taken a bullet or two to get the goods. So are these escapes from reality worth it?
Well, yes, at least monetarily. The PS3, fully loaded with a DVD player, 60 GB of memory, built-in Wi-fi, and plentiful accessories and treasures, is worth ($600) its weight in gadgets and gizmos. The ultra-real graphics of games make it feel like you’re actually leading the troops to squash the rebel insurgents. And the sleek black finish just may have brought sexy back to the gaming world.
Many gaming authorities and websites have filed complaints of the weak string of game releases, the missing frontal USB ports, and the fingerprint-attracting glossy exterior. This still doesn’t tarnish the Sony reputation for being the most up-to-date gaming manufacturer around. Each new round is like watching an episode of “Pimp My Playstation,” producing comfortable, yet refined gaming experiences for all involved.
The contender, Nintendo’s Wii, has words like “revolutionary” and “innovative” flying about. Look at the design. Is there anything original about the clinically white console or the over-abundance of lowercase “i’s” in its name? But I guess if you can’t beat ‘em (Apple) then join ‘em.
The Wii does have the upper hand when it comes to their controller, a motion-sensitive stick that puts the gamer a bit more in the action. Players can now hit forehand and backhand strokes, slice villains up with swords, and throw a right jab to knock out Mike Tyson with the help of the new device. And this is where talk of the revolution begins - the concept of getting gamers off the couch and into the game.
Over time, the novelty of flailing about in your living room will most likely wear off, as it has for some gamers. You can begin to predict the sensors well enough that what may have started out as a full golf swing will be lessened to a flick of the wrist. So much for a gaming innovation.
While some have been receptive to the Wii, others are have been busy filing class-action lawsuits against Nintendo. Following along the lines of a “hot coffee” ordeal, many enraged gamers have decided to punish the game manufacturer for creating flimsy, breaking wrist straps, eventually causing the controller to leave the user’s hand. Of course, this has lead to a slew of YouTube videos documenting over-enthused gamers decimating television screens with remotes and getting their hands cut by the blades of ceiling fans. How’s that for realistic game play?
Much like a Saw movie, no one wins here. Instead, we’re given the rusty blade and an impossible choice of severing our own wrist-strapped hands from technology. But hey, when you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
At least the new iPhones haven’t come out. But when they do, you won’t find me getting shot in the Apple Store.
Mike Berlin is a junior psychology major who is getting off the couch and into the game…literally, Tron style. Email him at mberlin2 at ithaca.edu