Monday, June 11, 2007

Wii Online: Stupid for Techno-geeks, Perfect for the Average Person

Using the Wii's Virtual Console, Shopping Center, and Opera Internet Browser.

I noticed a strange phenomenon this weekend: people like simplified, easy to use, easy to understand controls better than more complex controls that give them increased capability.

Written like that, it makes sense, but we techno-geeks rarely think about it.

My 10yo daughter has fallen in love with the Internet not on a computer and a mouse (which she has been exposed to), but on her Wii. I observed how she surfed to find out why.

  1. She pointed at links and clicked a big, round A button on the Wii Remote to go to pages. She pulled the trigger and dragged the direction she wanted to pan on the page. She pressed the + and - buttons to zoom. This was all intuitive to her - only the zoom took the first 5 minutes to understand (she was using an option on screen). She found the trigger's function accidentally and moved on.
  2. She had trouble aiming at hyperlinks, so she changed how she was sitting, just like she does when she's playing the Wii in a competitive game. Eventually she reclined again, having found a position the Wii Remote liked (it disliked hitting things at an oblique angle, and she was far to the side of the TV). She didn't seem to realize why things had changed (she had centered herself when she sat up and then relaxed again), and it didn't bother her.
  3. She was able to add favorites (bookmarks) easily, by clicking on a star at the bottom of the screen while viewing a page. The favorite gets a screenshot of the Web page you are on and the title (usually concatenated). I saw her add favorites and then go to another she'd made a Favorite for few minutes before - essentially task switching between pages by keeping favorites she didn't plan on keeping forever. (Dad's note: She did not bother arranging or deleting favorites, though I tried these features out - just two of the three buttons in your Favorites view: add, move & delete.)
  4. She zoomed in to read different parts of pages. If a website formatted badly for a Wii, she still looked at it, but spent less time on such sites before moving on (~1 minute as opposed to 3-4).
  5. She didn't mind that it takes more time to do all of this than with a mouse and keyboard, because for her a mouse and keyboard involves these things:
    1. Turning on the computer, and signing in.
    2. She's not accustomed to the keyboard and isn't a touch typist (although she's used typing tutor programs).
    3. The computer browser is confusing.
    4. She has to go to the computer room, sit down, and plan on spending a while there.
    5. She stated that using the Wii Remote and just turning on her Wii and getting online was much easier than all of the above, which she enumerated in simpler terms.
I found some of her assertions amusing - as human interface engineering teaches you "Don't listen to what your users say, watch what they do." Why? Because users lie, even though they don't think they are. Maria spent more time on the Wii than she might have at a computer, but it didn't bother her because it was more in tune with her usual life.

Maria used the Wii's online Opera Browser to research Virtual Console games - to find out what was good and worth her money. She paid me and her mother $20 for us to buy her "Wii Points" online, with which she could buy old emulated games the Wii runs.

She found that the only thing worth downloading, she bought first: Bomberman '93. Every other good game was either single player (vast majority), or two player, both of which I can emulate for free on my computer. I don't have 4 or 5 joysticks, so Bomberman '93 on the Wii for $6 made economic sense: extra USB gamepads for the PC run $15 a piece at least.

I was proud of her research (she wrote her findings down, whereas I would have used Firefox's tabs) and the fact that she got it all done - on the Wii.

No comments: