The Wii is iconic for its design, and its casual audience. While that’s often a criticism of my
childhood console it’s by no accident. The Wii captured the attention of your nephew and your
grandma because it took interactions people were familiar with and made them how you
interacted with games.
There’s the obvious motion controls, mimicking real movements, but that’s not what I’m talking
about. Instead, its the visual design.
Channels, the wiimote, the UI and everything that gives the Wii its iconic personality.
Growing up I didn’t have the internet, I hardly had a grasp on what was current with video
games. My sole source of information was the Australian gaming show Good Game and Good
Game Spawn Point. So that 2013 Christmas, after a holiday where we rented the Wii per hour
to play Wii Resort, I got my first video game console. The Wii might have been discontinued that
same year, but I had no idea, in fact the games being so cheap made my small amount of
money go further.
What truly is amazing though is that my Dad, young at heart but without much of a history
playing video games, took to the Wii as much as us kids did. He would play a Tiger Woods
golfing game daily, calling the whole family in to watch the replays of any hole-in-one.
While Dad isn’t a ‘gamer’, he loves his TV. Its a language he already understands, of channels
and using the remote. Even with his poor memory making it difficult for him to pick up new
things the Wii came naturally to him.
The Wii tapped into the language TVs had been building for decades, and it was this that made
the Wii so accessible. Arguably as much as the motion controls
" He would play a Tiger Woods golfing game daily, calling the whole family in to watch the replays of any hole-in-one."
The channels are key to this universal language, something easily understood by the entire
family. In an Iwata Asks interview it was said that the “Forecast Channel was finished in order to
clearly show that Wii would be on 24/7. You wake up in the morning, switch on Wii and the
weather forecast will be updated.” It becomes a ritual, like checking the news in the morning.
The channels came to be in a breakthrough moment. Between departments there were all these
ideas for features so within a meeting the ideas were lined up. That’s when “someone casually
said, neither as a complement nor as a criticism, ‘That’s a TV channel,’ and that’s when it
clicked. I mean, at that moment, the atmosphere was electric.”
That breakthrough moment spawned the core of how you interact with the Wii and made it
accessible to everyone.
They mimic a wall of TVs filled with channels, possibilities with no individual one given visual
priority over the others. Matched with the Wii music the menu is iconic.
"I mean, at that moment, the atmosphere was electric.”
The message board too was designed to bring the family together.
“It is a tool for preserving memories as well as linking family members together in an
Tamaki said as a part of Iwata’s interview.
The Mii Channel embodies this philosophy perfectly. It’s made to build caricatures of friends and
family together around the TV, and then when those loved ones are absent that Mii will appear
in-game such as the crowd in Wii Resort.
“With a device like that in the living room, I hope people will say ‘Wii is just like a member of the
family!’ Tamaki said.
This box of memories certainly feels like that to me. Just don’t feed your Pikmin!
The Wii, from the ground up, was designed to be enjoyed by the whole family. The Iwata Asks
interviews make this clear, and contain far more information than I can reference in one article
As Iwata said, “I think we’ve really come up with something pretty special.” And that I think we
can all agree on