Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
03 August 2006
What's wrong with "What's Wrong With Console Design?"
Thesis from today's commentary on the design of consoles:
The implication seems to still be, from the Sony camp, that videogames are either something to be afraid of or not innately worthwhile - which, considering how entrenched Sony has now become within the industry, strikes me as something of a problematic and silly position.
The author, Eric-Jon Rossel Waugh appears to want to promote videogamer pride through some ineffable quality of the design of the hardware itself. I don't get it. I think very little about what the hardware look like; to me things like the selection of games and the ease of use and comfort of the controller are several orders of magnitude more important. I've thought about the aesthetics of my game systems about as much as I've considered the attractiveness of my Mazda's brake pedal.

The whole commentary reads like a set-up to bash Sony. Sure, there's a little Microsoft smack here and there, but mostly it's lots of love for Sega and little gentle nuzzling with Nintendo. Someone's let fond memories bleed over into a facile commentary about superficial qualities of design.

Frankly, I find it hard to take anyone serious who says this (emphasis added):
Doing the math, it would seem the ideal game machine would be clearly a game machine (Genesis). It would be distinctive and attention-grabbing (Master System), without being a nuisance (Xbox). Its appearance would suggest something of what it had to say to the world - or rather, perhaps, what kind of experience to expect from it. It would be warm and inviting (Dreamcast), without seeming trivial (GameCube). Failing much of the above, you can't go too wrong with simply being as nondescript as possible (NES, Wii) - though that's the safe route.
For the record, here is distinctive and attention grabbing:

Here is nondescript:

This is not nondescript:

Yeah, whatever.
--Matt Matthews at 10:02
Comment [ 7 ]

Comments on this post:

So.... are you curmudgeoning because they're biased or stupid?

Of all the internet article in the world, you blogged about this? :)

By Blogger Neuraljazz, at 03 August, 2006 14:51  

Yes. And Yes. Other questions? ;^)

By Blogger jvm, at 03 August, 2006 14:54  

Eric-Jon Rossel Waugh has some beliefs about proper videogame hardware design that could be considered extreme. And I've never seen anything faze his diamond-hard beliefs.

There is an Insert Credit forums topic where he expresses his belief that neither the GBA nor DS needed four buttons, that progresses into whether any videogame needed four face buttons, and some other variations upon the theme. While there is some logic and support for his side, counter-arguments are met with bewilderment or just dismissed.

He is aderack. And yes, I am the baines present in that thread.

By Anonymous Baines, at 03 August, 2006 21:45  

Uh, yes. The Master System is a weird, elongated asymmetrical pyramid shape, with a mix of matte and glossy surfaces, a light-up diagram, and two distinct inputs. It doesn't look like much other than itself, and it certainly doesn't look like much other than a game console.

The NES is a practically featureless gray box, intentionally designed to be as nondescript as possible, so as not to put off an audience that was jaded to the concept of videogames in general.

So. Hello mr. Analysis!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 August, 2006 20:28  

Anon: No one, least of all me, would argue against the NES being nondescript. The point you've failed to justify is how the PSOne, either in its original form or the later smaller version, is not nondescript. After all, Sony's machines are the ones noticeably missing from the quoted paragraph.

My guess? You can see, as can we all, that nondescript is just as fitting for the NES as for the PSOne. You just don't want to admit it, so you ignore it.

By Blogger jvm, at 06 August, 2006 00:04  

Okay. Problem here is you didn't really read the article. The distinction is that the PlayStation, though generic, is generically a game console. It is so distinctly identifiable as a game console that it is perhaps the most generic-looking one that has ever been made. This is a different issue from a console that looks like a random ambiguous hunk of electronics, and is therefore pretty much completely beside the point of the article.

Furthermore, considering that the article never even brings up the console, bringing it up yourself in order to suggest implications that were never there to begin with, to use in order to damn the article... well, that's just beautiful. Good job there.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 01 September, 2006 19:53  

I notice that you were more honest about not having read the second article you damned for things that it never actually said. So good, you're gaining some experience. Maybe next time, just for kicks, you'll try full disclosure. Not only admit you haven't read the article; also admit you haven't a fucking idea what you're talking about.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 01 September, 2006 19:55  

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