No buttons to press, just gesture

Time has an article about Nintendo's strategy. There is a relevant point there:

Nintendo can reinvent gaming and in the process turn nongamers into gamers. (...) "Why do people who don't play video games not play them?" Iwata has been asking himself, and his employees, that question for the past five years. And what Iwata has noticed is something that most gamers have long ago forgotten: to nongamers, video games are really hard (...) The learning curve is steep.

That presents a problem of what engineers call interface design: How do you make it easier for players to tell the machine what they want it to do? "During the past five years, we were always telling them we have to do something new, something very different," Miyamoto says (like Iwata, he speaks through an interpreter). "And the game interface has to be the key. Without changing the interface we could not attract nongamers." So they changed it. (...) Of course, hardware is only half the picture. The other half is the games themselves. "We created a task force internally at Nintendo," Iwata says, "whose objective was to come up with games that would attract people who don't play games."

And this seems to attract game designers:

John Schappert, a senior vice president at Electronic Arts, is overseeing a version of the venerable Madden football series for Nintendo's new hardware. He sees the controller from the auteur's perspective, as an opportunity but also a huge challenge. "Our engineers now have to decipher what the user is doing," he says. "'Is that a throw gesture? Is it a juke? A stiff arm?' Everyone knows how to make a throwing motion, but we all have our own unique way of throwing." But consider the upside: you're basically playing football in your living room.

"No buttons to press, just gesture": the essence of tangible interactions!

In addition, in terms of innovation, the article highlights few important concerns:

Nintendo has grasped two important notions that have eluded its competitors. The first is, Don't listen to your customers. The hard-core gaming community is extremely vocal--they blog a lot--but if Nintendo kept listening to them, hard-core gamers would be the only audience it ever had. (...) Cutting-edge design has become more important than cutting-edge technology. There is a persistent belief among engineers that consumers want more power and more features. That is incorrect. (...) intendo is the Apple of the gaming world, and it's betting its future on the same wisdom. The race is not to him who hulas fastest, it's to him who looks hottest doing it.

Why do I blog this? My interest for this console (and hence this article) is threefold: (1) I am curious to try it out (2) it's a good step towards the use of tangible computing metaphors (3) the innovation model of Nintendo is interesting.