The Nintendo Wii from an HCI perspective

The Nintendo Wii is a video game console, focusing on a new form of player interaction. The device incorporates in its remote an IR camera tracker and an accelerometer to detect user movement in three dimensions. It also gives Tactile (vibration), Auditory (speaker), and visual outputs (LED lights).

Compared to other video game consoles, such as the Xbox and PlayStation, “The Wii feels like a major jump”, according to Game designer Will Wright – “not that the graphics are more powerful, but that it hits a completely different demographic.”

nintendo wii photo
Photo by joeltelling

Compared to other devices like gloves or a bodysuit, it is much simpler and more intuitive. The Wii allows the user to interact with wii games in a natural way such as normal body movements like throwing a ball or jumping, etc. and those movements are tracked by the game. Feedback is also given back to the user in the form of sound- via a built in speaker, or through vibration – via a built in motor.

The device has it’s weaknesses and limitations though:
1. The user has to learn and condition himself/herself to use it correctly (and that will differ by user and by game).
2. Limitations of the device itself – where tracking is not comprehensive or 100% accurate.
3. IR interference from other devices might affect proper operation.
4. A large area is needed to play a game.
5. Arm fatigue may develop for those who play for long periods.
6. It is also not suitable with those with medical problems especially in the shoulder or arms.