Wii – A Paper Topic

I’m still working out a lot of the details and have a lot more pre-writing to do, but I’m intending to write my paper on Wii Sports. I started out by bulleting a list of every interaction, element, feature, and occurance of Wii Sports that I could think of to see if any insights came out of it. One thing I realized was that many of the items on my list related to creating positive and happy interactions. I struggled a bit to really narrow my paper down and create a focus, but I came up with a starting point.

For a thesis, I’m intending to write my paper about how Wii Sports makes us feel like real athletes and that in turn, our self-esteem is raised by merely swinging the Wii remote.

I attempted a diagram which summarizes the argument, though I don’t think it came out very clear. But basically, I’m saying that through the use of customizable Mii’s, the Wii helps us identify with the characters in the game by having them look like us. And then, the Wii helps us identify with the objects/tools in the game through the use of the Wii remote, aka, swinging the remote like a baseball bat. Through this, the Wii creates an alternative reality that makes us feel like we are in the game.

Once this reality has been set, the Wii sets us up to succeed. Unlike an X-Box where when if you hit a home run in a baseball game, its attributed to pushing a button well, with the Wii, when you hit a home run, you feel like it was your swing that did it. Additionally, the Wii sets up users to feel good about their athletic abilities through the fitness test, the increase in skill level of your mii by playing, and other ways.

To further investigate this, I am considering gathering a group of individuals, giving them a survey which asks basically about their mood, confidence, and other related issues, have them do certain Wii Sports tasks, and then give them the same survey to see if the results change. Am I on the right track so far?


  1. Tyler Pace

    I think you’re on the right track and would suggest you go back and review embodied interaction from the Dourish material. To me, the Wii is all about removing the “controller” and trying to make the game play interactions as ready-to-hand as possible and I think that’s what you’re getting at with the “it’s almost like real sports” metaphor.

  2. davidroyer

    Yeah – I think you are off to a good start. I would use some stucturalism:

    You started looking at the paradigms of swinging a baseball bat in video games:
    Unlike an X-Box where when if you hit a home run in a baseball game, its attributed to pushing a button well, with the Wii, when you hit a home run, you feel like it was your swing that did it.

    Then look at other paradigms for this and see how Wii gameplay might differ and how that is important. Also look for the syntagmatic connotations that are present in the Wii. Overall, nice start!

  3. jimmypierce

    i like the basic argument- that that wii interface makes the experience seem more real, more like physical reality. raising self-esteem is one potential consequence of this, but their are many others. personally, i feel like it would be really great to use concepts from phenomenology, such as being-in-the-world and embodiment, to try to understand the relationship between the wii interface and online, virtual presence. and then, like dave said, use structuralism to tie it back to the interface and the interactions. overall, i think its a really neat topic.

  4. yenning

    I like your idea.

    Here is an article about how and why Wii was designed. Nintendo did a survey and found that people who don’t play game because most of them think there are too many buttons on the control panel. They will act with confusion. Just like what Tyler pointed out, Wii is “trying to make the game play interactions as ready-to-hand as possible”.

    Hope it helps.

  5. jordanfugate

    I think you are on the right track. One area that might be interesting to look into is how interaction and self-esteem are different (if at all) between hardcore gamers and those new to video games. Part of the Wii’s revolutionary approach is to attract “the whole family” to video games (i.e. players of many different skill levels, motivations, etc). A survey or user test that examined different kinds of gamers could provide some interesting insights. Just a thought though. Great topic.


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