Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Could Nintendo's Wii U finally make multi-screen TV viewing more social (for others in the room)?

Watching the Nintendo's E3 announcement this week, I was impressed, as I'm sure many others were, by their upcoming 'Wii U' system. Technically, the rumors swirling around the device are quite impressive, from its processing power (reported to be 30-100% more powerful than the PS3 or Xbox 360 depending on whom you ask) and the use of existing peripherals from the Wii, to the most impressive detail, its touchscreen controller which allows gaming without a television (streaming the game to the controller's 6 inch display). While the 'screen in the controller' trick isn't a new one (I'm looking at you Sega Dreamcast), this is the first time that a gaming experience can move from TV to handheld device and provide a reasonably identical experience.

While I could focus on the system's implications on gameplay, which include new levels of same room multiplayer, multiscreen movement of characters and even an inventory you can manage while in-play; I thought one of the greatest possible achievements for this system lies outside of the realm of traditional video gaming. Nintendo's Wii U may make ripples within game companies, but it stands to make larger waves throughout broadcasters, media owners and advertisers by advancing multi-screen TV  viewing.

To understand my hyperbole, its worth noting that multitasking while watching TV has become a rather common place thing. 42% of the American consumers admit to surfing the internet while watching television. Services such as Miso, Get Glue, Tunerfish & Intonow are allowing users to share what they are watching online. Twitter & Facebook buzz around 'appointment to view' content is expanding the conversation about what's being viewed, as it airs. These trends have moved the act of watching TV away from just consuming content from a single screen on one's own to a variety of experiences: with commentary, secondary angles, contests and networking around the viewing experience.