Couch Video Games and why they are awesome

I love games. I love games that I can play with others. I love spending time with other people, being able to hear their voices, opinions, and exclamations as we try and accomplish goals together or as opponents. Human interaction is my favorite thing about games.

This month, a very influential person on my life passed away. His name was Satoru Iwata.

Photo: Kojima Sasahara

Satoru Iwata was the CEO of Nintendo. Nintendo is a video game and toy company. They are one of the three competitors to console gaming, along with Sony and Microsoft.

I grew up on video games. When I was around 5, I got a Sega Genesis for Christmas with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as my first video game. It was so much fun. The next system I got was a Nintendo 64.

Photo: Wikipedia

It was much later in my life and took much convincing of my parents to let me get it, but I have so much nostalgia around that console it drives me crazy.

Probably my most favorite memories are those from when I was playing games with my friends. I remember spending hours playing Zelda, Mario, Super Smash Bros., Goldeneye 007, Perfect Dark, NFL Blitz, Madden, and other games. It was fun to be able to play some of these with 4 people at a time!

It was this that brought the notion of a screen peeker along. Split screen was used to help all players be able to play on the same screen.

Goldeneye 4-player split screen

Photo: http://gamegrin.com

So I’m with my friends and we are all huddled around this tiny little screen trying to see our even smaller views of the game. We had so much fun.

Flash forward to today. Split screen is still there but a lot of games today have found ways to allow players to play without needing a separate screen. Nintendo came out with the Wii U in 2012 in North America. The Wii U has a Gamepad which is a tablet and a second screen for the console.

Wii U

Photo: Wikipedia

This allows one or more players to have a second screen they can hide from additional players who are using the television. One of the best examples of this is found in Nintendoland. I present Luigi’s Ghost Mansion.

Luigi’s Ghost Mansion. A minigame of Nintendoland

Photo: http://superphillipcentral.com

This game has probably had some of the most replay on my console. Up to 4 players play as “Ghost Hunters”, or Mii’s dressed up like Mario characters with flashlights. They are trying to shine their lights on the other player, the ghost. The ghost is invisible on the television, but the player who is the ghost can see on the Gamepad screen where he/she is in the game. We usually turn off all the lights when playing this game because of the spooky music.

Nintendo has always made really great games that bring people together in the same room like this. Another example is Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U. You can play with eight people in the same room.

8-player smash!

Photo: http://nintendolife.com

This kind of complexity is hard to master. Nintendo is probably the only one who has done it this well. There are a lot of other ways to play with people on other systems, but a lot of them include doing it online. So instead of a social party at a friends house, you end up with something like this guy playing World of Warcraft

At least he isn’t in his mother’s basement!

Photo: http://beyondtheboxscore.com

EDIT: Now this isn’t the case with all online gaming. Some of it can be really fun. Look at Halo or Splatoon, for two polar-opposite examples. Its even better when you can team up with friends online and play together. That being said, I have more fun seeing my friends and families faces as we play games together. I want to hear their plans and strategies as they try to win the game.

Video Games are a tool. Like any tool they can be used to help and build, or tear down and destroy. While it may be extreme to say they destroy anything, they can definitely do well to build relationships. I think this was a focus Mr. Iwata had with the people he made games for. He was the CEO but he used to make the games as a programmer. He wanted to share his love of gaming with everyone and I think he did a wonderful job at this.

RIP Satoru Iwata, thanks for the fun times.

Photo: Peach Bunni

Final Edit: I originally posted this on a separate blog, but felt I should also post it here.