"A movie-soundtracked prayer to stop time"

Leigh Alexander on the Xbox One announcement:

The beginning salvo of the theoretical “You” at the center of the living room experience took me back to 2006, where we all giggled a little when Time Magazine’s person of the year was “You,” complete with mirror on the front of the print magazine. That wasn’t long after the Xbox 360’s late 2005 launch. The world has changed a lot since then, but you wouldn’t know it to look at the presentation.

Now that everyone’s announced and/or released their consoles, I think Nintendo got it most “right”.[1] Maybe we’ve been spoiled by iPhones and iPads and devices with emotional design,[2] but I don’t think we have much tolerance left for electronics that are as impersonal as a black box with an esoteric controller tethered to it. Even just two or three years ago, I would have expected and even wanted what we’re getting out of these new consoles. Now, though—I have no clue what I should have hoped for. But I know this wasn’t it.

Granted, nobody could have anticipated what our technical lives would have looked like two or three years ago, and I’m not surprised that this is how the next crop of consoles have come out—but all I’m saying is that the recent experience of playing Howling Dogs on a bus, with my iPhone, after a crushing day at work, left me a quivering, emotional wreck. Maybe it won’t make any sense—and I think I’m okay if it doesn’t—but video games are like that for me, now.

  1. Boy, talk about a can of orthogonal worms.  ↩

  2. Jony Ive says something about industrial design that seems smart and relevant wrt. video games. Emphasis mine:  ↩

    There’s a lot of stuff that’s really important that you can’t distill down to a number. And I think one of the things with design is that when you look at an object you make many many decisions about it, not consciously, and I think one of the jobs of a designer is that you’re very sensitive to trying to understand what goes on between seeing something and filling out your perception of it. You know we all can look at the same object, but we will all perceive it in a very unique way. It means something different to each of us. Part of the job of a designer is to try to understand what happens between physically seeing something and interpreting it.

    Video games are incredibly inscrutable when you think about it like that.