Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Month: June, 2007

Why the Wii wins

WiiI bought myself a Nintendo Wii in February. I really wanted one because it looked like fun, and I also really wanted to play The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I tried to get one in December, which didn’t happen because they were all sold out. In February, I went to Best Buy to get one and they were sold out. I hung around for no particular reason and ended up playing the Guitar Hero II game for about half an hour. I suddenly noticed store personnel walking in with a bunch of white boxes. I swear, as the guy reverently placed the box on the shelf, the clouds opened up and a single ray of sunlight fell on the box (there was a hole in the ceiling). I also heard a chorus of angels.

Wii ControllersI used to game a lot, but then I stopped because it got too expensive. Also, graduating and getting job was a huge factor. I simply didn’t have the time to play a lot of games. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them. The first thing that got me about the Wii, of course, is its revolutionary interface. The first game I played was Tennis, from the pack-in Wii Sports game. Of course, the graphics weren’t mind-blowing, but playing it was fun above all else. That is what made the Wii a success. It is an excellent family console that targets the casual gamer. In a paradoxically Zen manner, Nintendo managed to be a gaming success without targeting gamers.

I got firsthand experience of the how much fun the Wii can be, when my parents came over to visit. My parents don’t play games as much. My dad will occasionally play but more often than not, they’re usually telling me to stop playing. But both of them found the Wii to be a lot of fun. My dad especially enjoyed Tennis and Bowling. This last weekend, I took my Wii over to California, so that my sister, my cousins, and I could play. My uncle, who never plays games had a whole lot of fun playing Golf and Tennis on Wii Sports. The fact that a console can generate interest in a demographic that doesn’t typically play games demonstrates its success.

I hear a lot of comments from Xbox (360 and the older one) and PS3 fanboys. They seem to be peeved that the Wii is a success (PS3 fanboys seem especially peeved). I’ll address their points here:

  • The graphics on the Wii suck! It’s not even that much better than the Gamecube!
    It’s not about the graphics. Nintendo didn’t try to make a console with breath-taking graphics. They tried to make a console that was fun, and that everyone would enjoy. From the looks of it, the gamble paid off.
  • I’ve played the Wii and it’s ok for a while, but now I play my Xbox/PS3 while my Wii gathers dust.
    Good for you. You must be a serious gamer. Nintendo didn’t make the Wii for you. The market consists of two kinds of people: hardcore gamers and everyone else. Nintendo went after everyone else. Guess which group is bigger?
  • The Wii is not a serious gaming console. It’s just for kids and it’s mainly for fun.
    Fanboys say this like it is a bad thing. It’s not. The Wii was never meant to be a serious gaming console. It was meant to be a fun console. I remember watching my dad play the Sinclair ZX Spectrum when I was really young. It was a home computer created by Sinclair Research Ltd., a UK-based company. It had very simple games which were fun. I think this was probably the last console that my dad played games on (not counting FIFA 97 on the N64, and Prince of Persia on the PC). He played those games because they were fun and simple. Most casual gamers, or even non-gamers don’t really enjoy complicated RPG’s (Role-playing games) or FPS’s (First-person shooters). They like to jump in to a game and play without learning complicated button-sequences, or even figuring what each of the buttons do. The Wii offers them that in an extremely innovative and revolutionary form.
  • The Xbox and PS3 are technologically superior to the Wii.
    So? Technological superiority has nothing to do with it. Don’t you get it? This is not about the serious hardcore gamer. Yes, the hardcore gamer cares about photo-realistic graphics. The hardcore gamer cares about specifications. The casual gamer doesn’t. Despite the Wii not being “up there” with the Xbox and PS3 as far as technology is concerned, it still is a raging success.
  • The Wii controller is lame! The motion-sensing is not that precise! It doesn’t even have that many buttons!
    I forgot where I saw this gem of an argument… Anyway, the Wii controller is simple. You move your controller, and your character does the same. Someone was griping that the Baseball game on Wii Sports wasn’t like actual baseball. Ok, so you’re telling me that pushing a button on a regular controller is more like actual baseball? Casual/Non gamers don’t want to take on the learning curve of complicated button sequences and button assignments. The Wii even hearkens to the days of the Classic Nintendo Controller, when things were much simpler. So understand this: Simple = Easy = Fun.
  • The Wii sold more only because it is cheap!
    Yes, this is true. But that’s not the only reason. Yes, many customers balk at the $500-$600 price-tag of the PS3. However, why shell out that much when you can get a more “fun” console at half the price? I went to Best Buy a few weeks ago and saw a customer asking one of the employees if they had any Wiis. The employee’s response was that they were all sold out. I went up to him and asked him about the sales of the PS3 vs. the Wii. He said that the Wiis were getting sold out almost as soon as they came in, whereas the PS3’s were still sitting on the shelves.
  • The Wii games are lame! There are not even that many games!
    This also falls into the “Wii is for fun” category. Wii games are for fun. It is true that the Wii doesn’t have that many games, but neither does the PS3. Another important point to realize is that many developers are scrambling to develop titles for the Wii. Many developers ignored the Wii, and laughed it off as a console that was doomed to fail. After the console’s success, many developers are now rushing to release titles for the Wii. This further highlights the success of the console. Also take into account that development costs for the Wii are between $2 million to $3 million versus the $20 million to $30 million for Xbox 360 or PS3 titles.
  • Wii is for losers and pussies!!!!PS3/XBOX RUELS!
    I suspect that most of the people who make these sort of comments are frustrated 14-year olds who’s moms didn’t buy them a PS3. Or people who bought the technology-laden PS3 to compensate for some part of their anatomy. I can only say this: most people who buy Wiis, buy it for casual gaming. Casual gaming probably means that they have other things that are more important. Like for instance, they may actually have a life.

Let me categorically state that I don’t consider the Xbox or the PS3 to be “bad” consoles in any way. I am also not saying that the Wii is the “best” console out there. I have played games on the Xbox 360 (Gears of War is one of them) and I have seen the PS3 in action. Gears of War is a fun game, and the graphics on the PS3 are mind-blowing and gorgeous. It all comes down to your needs. Do you want a technology-heavy gaming-powerhouse? Then you might want the PS3. Do you want a fun console that the whole family can enjoy? Then you might want the Wii.

Nintendo made a brilliant (and risky) strategic decision to target casual gamers, and it paid off. There’s no reason to be mad at Nintendo because of that. All I know is that I enjoy playing my Wii, and so does my family. This is more than I can say for any previous console I have owned.

Wii Sports Twilight Princess

Wii Sports and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Citizenship

Flag and Statue of Liberty

On Friday, I got my citizenship. Michael and I barely made it there. We left at about 7:00 am. The ceremony didn’t start until 9:00 am. Once we got to downtown Phoenix, I realized that I didn’t have my wallet, which meant I had no ID whatsoever. So I drove (average speed between 100-110 mph) back home. Then Michael drove back to downtown Phoenix through rush-hour traffic. It was crazy. We made it with 15 minutes to spare.

The ceremony was held in the Phoenix district courthouse, which is a pretty cool looking building. The ceremony didn’t actually start until 10:00 am. First they ask us to rise when the Judge walks in. Then a motion to grant citizenship is presented to the Judge. He accepts. We raise our right hand to make the Oath of Allegiance (I already did this when I joined the military). After that, he invited a few of the new citizens to come up and speak. There were a few touching stories, especially from this father who immigrated from Zimbabwe. He said he wanted his children to have a future (because of the current situation there), which is why he moved to the US.

The ceremony was over by about 12:30 pm. I got a certificate which told me that I was now a citizen of the United States of America. To tell you the truth, I didn’t feel that different. It was more of a formality than anything else. After all, I did go to war.

I have some pictures from the ceremony, but I haven’t downloaded them from my camera yet. I’ll put them up here later today.

Inside courthouse
This is what the inside of the Phoenix district courthouse looks like. You can’t get the complete scale of the place until you’re inside. This is facing away from the courtroom, towards the outside.

Courtroom from afar
The courtroom is a cylindrical structure towards the end of the building.

Courtroom from up close
That’s me standing by the courtroom.

Sandra Day O'Connor
Statue of Sandra Day O’Connor.

Hmmm
Hmmm

Me again
Me again.

New citizens seated
New citizens seated.

New citizens standing
New citizens standing.

Oath
Taking the Oath.

Pledge of Allegiance
Taking the pledge of allegiance, led by a bunch of kids.

Speaking
That’s me speaking about how great it is to be a citizen. The speech is up there with all the other awesome speeches, like the ones by Lincoln, Churchill, Nehru, and King. In fact, can you see how the lady in the pink is wiping tears from her eyes? That’s how awesome I was. Either that or she is like “AHHH MY EYES ARE BURNING!”.

Waving the flag
They asked us to wave the flag while singing “I’m proud to be an American”. I felt it was a little cheesy. I mean, come on. I already went to Iraq and I was carrying guns and stuff there. I wear the American flag on my uniform. I didn’t feel like waving it while singing. Maybe if we had to just wave it, it would have been fine. But here I am waving it anyway, with a goofy grin on my face.

Cyclone in Oman

This morning, I found out from my dad that there is a cyclone in Oman. At first he told me that there were heavy rains and I thought that was odd because it never rains in Oman this time of year. Then he said that it was due to a cyclone (that’s what hurricanes are called on that part of the world). Apparently Cyclone Gonu reached the strength of a Category Five hurricane while it was over the Indian Ocean. However, it only hit the Oman coast at a strength of 60%. But that was enough to cause widespread flooding. Apparently, the wadis (seasonal streams) are overflowing. I hope everyone in Muscat is ok. The Omani Army is on alert and schools have been converted into emergency shelters. No deaths have been reported so far. Omani authorities have asked everyone to stay indoors. The storm seems to be dying down although heavy showers are still expected.

Qurum Residential Area
Street or River?

Nandos Submerged
Nandos Submerged

McDonalds Submerged
McDonalds Submerged

Update

Today (8th of June) I got a chance to look at the aftermath of Gonu. My parents called me last night and told me that things in Oman are pretty bad. They are staying put in Dubai at my uncle’s place. There was no way for them to get from Seeb airport to their house. The roads were flooded. Low-lying areas like Qurum were completely submerged. I saw the pictures of the aftermath today. Roads have completely caved in. Bridges and walkways are just gone. All of Qurum – it’s all gone. Completely damaged. I have no idea what they are going to do to those homes and all the shopping malls they have in the business district. There is so much water damage. The Omani roads weren’t built with to handle this kind of weather. It looks like the water washed away all the sediment underneath the roads, leading to cave-ins and craters.

I heard that places like Wadi-Kabir and Al-Ghubra experienced flooding too. I wonder how my school is doing. My parents’ house is fine. They live in a place that’s kind of high.

I don’t know if they have anything set up for international donations. Currently they have something that accepts donations from Omanis only. But please spread the world. These people need help.

Darsait Bridge
Darsait Bridge

Love Road
Love Road

Seeb Beach Road
Seeb Beach Road

Cars washed away
Cars washed away

YouTube Vidoes

Cyclone Gonu, Oman, Muscat
Muttrah Rains

Images courtesy mindazi.com and Sleepless In Muscat

Also check out Sleepless In Muscat and My Dhaba

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