Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wii and Convergence

I think the Nintendo Wii is the perfect example of convergence culture. Jenkins defines convergence as “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries” (2). The Wii is at its core a video game console, but it is really so much more than that. On the menu page, there is an option for uploading your photos from an SD card and it has the current weather and news stories. You can connect to the Internet over the Wii Wi-Fi Network to interact with other people and go shopping. The different applications you can do with the Wii each have their own “channel” (eg. Internet channel), which is interesting because it is juxtaposing the idea of TV channels, video games, and the Internet all into one. You are looking at the TV screen and “flipping through the channels,” essentially changing programs, but it from a video game console, not the actual TV.

When the Wii first came out, it cost $5 to be able to use the channel to browse the Internet. After two years it was made free and everyone who had previously purchased it could get a refund. Making the channel free showed how deeply integrated the Internet had become to the media of video games- they have converged. Also, it means the TV basically becomes a computer. The Wii brings together all the media forms to create ultimate convergence.

The Wii actually facilitates convergence within its own genre. Using the online store, you can buy “classic console” games, which go all the way back to the first ever Nintendo console. No other system can boast having such backwards compatibility. Past and present media are both available in the Wii and coexist side by side.

Lastly, the Wii can now be used to watch TV and movies. Netflix recently introduced a disk that Netflix members can request for free, and it allows you to watch your TV shows and movies from Netflix on the Wii. The Wii is literally a combination of a DVD/VHS player, a TV, a camera, a computer, and a game console. The Wii 100% accomplished the challenge of “expand[ing] the potential uses of this cheap and readily accessible technology so that it…smuggled convergence culture right into people’s living rooms” (8). The appeal of this broad range of media cultures is apparent in the Wii’s success- it leads the market in sales over its competitors Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, which have Internet capabilities but nothing like the multi-media approach of the Wii.

Friday 11AM Section

1 comment:

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