Stop tittering at the back. I'm serious. Well, mostly.
I'm sure we've all been in situations where we've tried to get disinterested family members, significant others and friends into videogames, albeit with varying degrees of success. Wii, Nintendo's Trojan horse geared towards this aim, has been extremely fruitful in gathering sections of an audience that has previously ignored the medium for numerous reasons, enticing the easily defined 'non' or 'lapsed' gamers with its tactile motion sensing remote controller.
Much in the same way its handheld, DS, has done prior. Headway has been made through the supposed realisation that the quality of the game doesn’t matter unless the user has an easy way of being integrated within its control scheme; something we hardcore gamers can sometimes take for granted, but for anyone less experienced it's an often daunting prospect.
Despite the progress made to increase gaming's attractiveness to non-typical consumers, there's still a small yet dedicated strain of resistance that persists. They refuse to be taken in by the pleasures of Wii Sports, or being able to actually pitch and sway a controller in the same way actors often do oh-so-unconvincingly when pretending to play games in soaps and films.
So, here are ten ways (in no particular order) to help play your own little game of metaphorical Breakout with whoever may be snubbing your Wii right now. These are tried and tested methods, guaranteed to get your loved one smacking virtual balls until they're breathless with wide-faced glee – or your money back.
That said, seeing as you're not actually paying for this feature, expect that guarantee to be fairly spurious and not entirely reliable.
1. Your Wii remote contains much power. Feel its Force flow through you
The Wii remote is the reason why Nintendo's little machine is so damn accessible in the first place; so maybe you should utilise it in a more… unorthodox fashion. By that I mean using its 'living room subtlety' to maximum effect by leaving it around your target at any given opportunity wherever they may be resting, working or generally habituating at the time. Currently, my Wii remote sits along side my TV, DVD, Freeview and VCR remotes, but only the little white wrist-strapped enabled gem stands out among its drab cohorts. So if your partner is relaxing in the living room, make sure you leave it on the coffee table to spark conversation. Cooking in the kitchen? "Oh, look, how did that lovely looking and wonderfully sleek piece of digital machinery get in the fridge?" Bathroom? Well, instead of passing the rag-on-a-stick, pass the Wii remote – it can probably take the punishment and offers a good back scratching alternative.
If you find they're still not paying much attention, it's time to get really sneaky. Leave the remote in your chosen place, go into the room where your Wii sits and then start playing a multiplayer title. Depending on what you're playing, the abandoned remote will start making all kinds of noises via its speaker and may even start rumbling. This may backfire if your target is of a frail or timid disposition, so think long and hard before you decide to slip it in Granny's pillow for a night-time surprise.
2. Vox populi, vox dei
Or generally translated, "the voice of the people is the voice of God". Use your knowledge to play up Wii every time you see it on TV, in a magazine or, in fact, anywhere. Nintendo has done a decent job of advertising the machine in various publications that wouldn’t usually offer such exposure, while increasing its word-of-mouth potential via some efficient play booth tours. So whenever you see it, don't be afraid to emphasize -very persistently- the virtues of this wondrous machine and how it MUST be great given the sheer amount of exposure it's getting.
Be warned though; there is the clear and present danger of overdoing this and subsequently finding yourself punched in the mouth repeatedly until you shut the hell up, so this tactic should only be attempted by skilled orators. Please be careful.
3. The nostalgia effect
Regardless of how little a gamer one may be, short of living in a cave the past 30 years a large number of people on this planet would have heard of Mario or Sonic (or the more galling non-gamer iteration, "Sonio"). Which automatically gives you a secret weapon, via the Virtual Console. If for some reason your loved one is not charmed by being able to swing a bat/racquet/fist (be careful with the latter) in real-time, then lay some fresh cheese in the trap and mention their good old friend, Sonio. The allure of Mario or Sonic is far too much to resist for many, even if they're utterly crap at playing, because it harks back to the days of simplicity and single-plane scrolling (or so they think; don’t argue with them) fun. Yes, it may cost you a few Wii Points to bust out Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario Bros. from their archive prison, but your target's weary smile of being reunited by Wii will endear them to you and the little machine instantly.
However, there are a couple traps awaiting you so it's worth being aware of them. The first is under no circumstances should you try and explain how these company mascots are now playable on the same console after being on opposing sides and thus, different machines for so long. To many a non-gamer, Sonic and Mario were one almost incestuous mass of gaming mythos. Unless you want to spend the next few days explaining how the Super Genesis Master Drive Entertainment System never existed, you keep your big trap shut. The second caveat is to resist all urges to be cruel and fire up Sonic and the Secret Rings or even Super Mario World instead, for cheap laughs. Yes, they're great games and yes, it would be funny watching the person flail uselessly and tearfully remark how much their beloved game has apparently changed from how they remember it. But you're also likely to traumatise them like when supercop John Spartan first came out of suspended animation in Demolition Man and realised there was no toilet paper in the future. Not pretty.
4. Mii, myself and I
When the Mii system was introduced to the videogames world, it seemed like one of the most pointless and superficial things added to Wii's functionality. Yet for all the sceptics' bluster, creating Miis is one of the most compulsive and involving things to crop up on the format. Once we'd got past the predictable Michael Jackson/Hitler/Jesus Miis that everyone makes, people were forming little versions of just about anyone to a degree, from Charlie Brown to Admiral Ackbar.
So offering to make a mini iteration of your significant other is a great way of getting them to sit-up and pay attention. Better still, create a horrific mutilated gimp version and then tell them innocently "I tried to get you right, but it just… didn’t work out" *puppy dog eyes*. That's likely to force them into action to vindicate themselves, followed by getting you to admit they don’t actually look like a misbegotten freak in your eyes. And hell, even if they do actually look like a misbegotten freak, you've always got the classic, unbeatable romantic bail-out line: "Well, hun, love IS blind…look! It's the Goodyear Blimp!"
5. "It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead."
Erm, okay, maybe I went a bit overboard with the whole 'dying' bit, but the point I'm getting at here is that your Wii is so small, so portable and so durable that… it's… erm… a veritable Terminator. Albeit a cute, non-death dealing one. Okay, it's a bad metaphor, but relating somewhat to Point 1), instead of leaving the remote around your intended target, this time leave the actual Wii itself in conspicuous places. So if your partner is relaxing in the living room, make sure you leave it on the coffee table. Cooking in the kitchen? "Oh, look, how did that lovely looking and wonderfully sleek piece of digital machinery get in the fridge?" Bathroom? Well, instead of passing the rag on a stick… oh, wait. No, sorry. But you know what I mean. Sure, it may well create a slight stalker effect as your loved one starts to get a little creeped out by the fact this tiny white hunk of electronics is following them around everywhere, but you can play up the lost puppy angle and rush into the room, hugging them both and saying: "Awww, it's lost and only looking…" *dramatic pause for effect* "…for love." How can anyone resist its adorability?
Although if at any time the loading slot suddenly lights up without warning when the machine isn’t actually plugged into anything, do not hesitate to put a hammer to the thing immediately. Can't be too careful in the 21st century.
6. Loud and proud
An old method and as such, not that reliable, but always worth a shot. When you decide to play your Wii, keep the door open and ramp up the sound to obnoxious levels. It'll be impossible for the whole house not to hear you slugging home-runs out the park. This will likely bring in a gaggle of bemused onlookers wanting to find what the hell is making all the noise, which is where you pounce on them with a Wii remote and get them to try it out. Mission Accomplished. Although what's equally likely to happen is they'll come into your games room, smash the Wii against your smug face and insert the remote into any number of your orifices to get you to quieten your noisy ass down. It all depends on how much you value the risk/reward factor. Although truth be told, if they weren’t keen on games before, it's unlikely that the sounds of your glorious machine is going to change their minds. A card best played under more accommodating circumstances, methinks.
7. Let the Wookie win*
As hardcore gamers we have a tendency to be slightly disingenuous when playing those of lesser experience. Old tactics are broken out, tricks of the trade are used and in the case of actually looking like you're about to lose, some downright dirty fighting may be employed, followed by conceitedness or out-and-out trash talk. But that's likely to only alienate your dearest in this case, which means when trying to integrate them into the joys of Wii gaming, it may be best to employ the wisdom of one C-3PO and swallow your pride. Nothing is more off-putting than getting your ass repeatedly whupped on a game, especially by someone who knows what they're doing and refusing to give you some leeway or time for adjustment. Slow yo' roll, young 'un. Ease them into things. I'm not saying become a rodeo clown before rolling over and dying; you have to make it LOOK good so that they don’t totally realise you're faking (which can be just as distressing to a typical non-gamer). Once they're into the swing of things and competent enough to think they're decent, THEN you can lay them to waste and call them a gibbon-fingered no-l33t-sk1lz loser. It's all in the timing.
*By the way, I'm not saying your significant other/members of your family are big, slightly dog-faced, intimidating and/or hairy (yo' momma), but… just be aware that "goonie goo goo" isn't a reference to a certain Richard Donner film with a truffle shuffle. Trust me.
8. The innocence of youth
Remember when you were young (or indeed, some of you may still be) and whenever it was time for you to get presents for birthdays or whatever, you used to lay not-so-subtle hints as to what you wanted? This is very much the same, albeit slightly less obvious. Name dropping Wii and the experiences you've had with it innocently in conversation can sometimes go a long way, either through frustrating your target into giving it a go or better yet, the power of subliminal suggestion which suddenly gives them a craving to play. In this case, both results are beneficial and can work in your favour if you're quick enough to capitalise on them (which means "oh, look, it just so happens everything is set up for you to play… how convenient").
There's the temptation to get carried away, however, so don’t overdo it. Wii puns are cute for precisely 1.5 seconds after they're used, then you have to move on or risk getting your tongue yanked out from your mouth in justifiable retaliation.
9. "Vanity... definitely my favourite sin."
Sadly, there's no DVD player option within Wii to allow you to do the whole 'wrong hole' equivalent of putting in a game instead of a DVD and then saying "woops… ah well, may as well carry on, eh?", but the Photo Viewer mode offers a comparable lure for those wanting to corner any unsuspecting casuals into the Wii trap. A suggestion of playing the recently taken family pics on the TV is likely to pique an interest, and when you slot the SD card into Wii and show them, expect another convert to join the procession. Even more so when you display the little mini-games and effects you can easily and quickly add to the photos.
This is much more attractive and accessible than showing them on a PC, and helps break down some of the barriers associated with digital photography, given the relative hassles of putting things on a disc to see them on the television or not having any 'physical copies' to pass around – so now the whole family can see your Aunt Bunny's adventures to the off-licence without anyone annoyingly lingering on a particular photo with their grubby, cheesy poof flaked mitts and holding things up.
One thing to keep in mind, though; for the love of God, make sure you're aware of what MP3s you have on your SD card before you boot it up. I don’t think mother would be too impressed by watching your two sisters' wedding snaps playing to the strains of "I've got hoes, in different area codes…" in the background.
10. "Call the ambulance, come and pick up your people."
An old favourite. When all else fails, when there's nothing left to rely on, the equivalent of a Final Fantasy desperation attack is always on stand-by like a false emergency services call. This particular version of Omnislash offers the promise of fame and potentially money to the subject, cashing-in on the craze of being maimed, mutilated and otherwise mangled by Wii in one way or another. Of course, you don’t have to REALLY destroy something in your living room (or indeed, yourself) to get results, but that's the beauty of it and probably the clincher for the person who previously spurned your Wii. Clever Photoshop manipulation will work wonders, although these days you'll have to be slightly more original to get any sort of press attention – flinging your remote through a TV wont garner much more than a half-hearted "meh" now. So go for something brutally horrific or unique. The following has yet to be fully done: wrist strap strangulation ("oh noes, Nintendo's new safety precautions have BACKFIRED!!11!!shiftone!"), remote 'sword swallowing' (complete with the shape of it showing through your gullet, cartoon style), a remote embedded into someone's leg (could be tricky to pull off convincingly, so best say you used a spoon to soften up the flesh first) and for the particularly gifted Photoshopper; decapitation a la Wii. Not all the way, though. You wouldn’t want people to think you were a self-mutilating murderer.
You get extra points if you slap the created image on a SD card, turn it into a jigsaw on your Wii and then sneak it into the background of the final picture. And you get mega respect points (+10 hardcore MP) if you REALLY get injured using your Wii. However, you may well find yourself too damaged to actually get anything out of it… or, in fact, be able to report it at all. Oh, the humanity!
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