Forget all the talk about the unique tablet-turned-gamepad controller in Nintendo's new Wii U game console. Forget, as well, the highly hyped possibilities of dual-view second-screen gaming. The real triumph of the Wii U is in its advocacy for a nearly lost concept -- same-room multiplayer gaming.
Yes, a reasonable amount of same-room gaming still goes on in living rooms and dorms, usually in the form of Street-Fighter-style beat 'em ups, or sports games such as the Madden NFL series. But the classic concept of sharing a physical space alongside a virtual one has been eclipsed for years by other forms of multiplayer gaming that are not reliant on the participants being in the same place or even playing at the same time.
Let's call the experience of playing NintendoLand or New Super Mario Bros. U "synchronous-local" gaming. It's how we would play classic games from Combat on the Atari 2600 to Super Mario Bros. on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. It's also how we've played games from chess to Monopoly long before video games existed (apologies in advance to the legions of correspondence chess players who will no doubt object to this description).
More common today is what we'll call "synchronous-remote" gaming, which involves playing a game with other people at the same time, but not in the same location. That's the typica... [Read more]