Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What is "Next Gen"?

The term "Next Gen" is thrown around a lot these days when describing the newest video game consoles and the games made for those consoles. But what exactly is "Next Gen?" Is it something quantifiable or can it mean different things to different people and different hardware?

My opinion tends to shift towards the latter. Each of the new systems, (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii) embody the term "Next Gen" in different ways.

First there is the Xbox 360. This console was the first of the 3 to be released and the system emphasizes much improved graphics over the original Xbox. On the less publicized side, the Xbox 360 includes many more options and features that make use of Xbox Live. In these ways graphics and extensive online features make the 360 "Next Gen."

Next is the Playstation 3 (PS3) , which is similar to the Xbox 360 in many ways. The PS3 puts a lot more emphasis on graphics (which it can pull of beautifully), but it also includes many online features to certain games. However unlike the Xbox 360, the PS3 features a "Six-Axis Controller" with motion sensing hardware built in. These motion controls are built into some games to add an extra element of gamer interaction, but in many ways the motion sensing in the PS3 controllers leaves much to be desired. So with all of this, the Six-Axis controller, and the immense graphics power behind the PS3 make the system "Next Gen."

The final system to look at is the Nintendo Wii. The Wii improves on the graphics of the Gamecube, but they didn't make that the biggest change. Instead the Wii sport the most sophisticated motion sensing of all the systems. Motion is detected in the Wii Remote, or Wii-mote as it has been called, using a sensor bar and hardware inside the Wii-mote. The motion sensing has the ability to to know where the Wii-mote is being pointed, how close or far it is from the screen, and even how you hold the Wii-mote, i.e. right side up or upside down. With this innovation on Nintendo's part, they are able to pull off games such as Wii Sports. The graphics in this game could be considered basic and hardly worthy of a "Next Gen" system. However, the interactiveness of the game gives it an experience that far overshadows the game's graphics. In addition, the downgraded graphics are actually a very clever strategy for the game. It not only shifts the focus to the experience rather than the looks, but it gives the game a childish and playful appeal.

But anyway, I ramble, and quite clearly demonstrate the bias I warned you about. In summation, the Wii uses its motion sensing technology to create interactive games that make the system worthy of the title "Next Gen."

So my point is that each system has proven itself to be Next Gen, but in its own way. For this reason I find it foolish to call one system superior over another. You can't say one combination of technology is right and another is wrong, you can really only say that one system may have a single aspect that surpasses that same aspect on another system. And with technology always moving forward I can hardly imagine what they will think of next.

1 comment:

Gogol said...

What about the PC. There are next-gen games on that as well.

Also, I'm pretty sure when someone uses the word any gamer will know what you're talking about.