"Wii Sports" was the first video game my mom played after obsessing, years earlier, over "Tetris" on the original, green-tinted Game Boy. It was the first time we'd shared a game experience together since then.
According to Nintendo, the upcoming "Mario Kart Wii" should allow us to have another. In a press release late yesterday touting sales of "Super Smash Bros. Brawl," Nintendo classified "Wii Sports" and the next "Mario Kart" as a new type of kind of experience: "bridge games."
"Bridge games," reads the release, "let video game novices and veterans play and have fun together."
A few weeks ago, "BioShock"'s Ken Levine called "Wii Bowling" "the ultimate gateway drug."
But is it? Bridging casual and hardcore gamers implies each is approaching a game from opposite directions -- but having fun on a common ground. That doesn't mean the "novice" will ever end up crossing to the other side. "Gateway games" and "bridge games" may not be one and the same.
Nintendo's announced definition of a "bridge" game isn't necessarily Wii specific, either. Does a "bridge" game mean another player has to be a part of the action? I had several friends watch me play through "Resident Evil," simply because the game was so immersive, even to a viewer. They never played it, but they experienced it.
So far, the gameplay of "bridge games" falls on the simpler side. Could Nintendo make a "bridge game" out of "Pikmin"? And how would you make a more accessible version of "The Legend of Zelda?" without scaring off the hardcore?
Do they need to?