Gameplaywright: shall Wii play an RPG?

Over at Will Hindmarch and Jeff Tidball’s freshly announced blog Gameplaywright, Will makes the following provocative observation that may surprise Wii owners:

The wiimote is a roleplaying prop, isn’t it? It’s a multi-functional device morphed by your imagination and direct interface into some imaginary role in an imaginary setting. Thus, every Wii game is practically an RPG, or at least contains “RPG elements,” bordering on LARP. Your acceptance of the wiimote as something other than it is – your “casting” of it into a role – flows back into you, transforming you into a roleplayer.

That’s right, Wii gamers: you’ve been drafted; we’ll expect you to make well-informed votes for all Origins Award and ENnies ceremonies from now on, plan accordingly. But honestly, I couldn’t agree with Will more – the right Wii interface can nearly eliminate the learning curve on what a roleplaying game is, and could make the entire roleplaying medium (yes, including the tabletop games) less intimidating. Now if we could just get the right cross-pollinization of socially mobilizing party games the Wii is known for with a memorable story-driven experience, then we’d really have a tool to recruit fresh roleplayers.

This also reminds me I was going to pick up Resident Evil 4 for the Wii, and get my survival horror roleplaying on.


  1. If we can use the Wii-mote to roll dice … among other movements (swing sword or axe, wave wand, backstab, etc.) … it could work.

    Isn’t the new HARRY POTTER videogame for Wii allow you to use the Wii-mote as a wand?

    Me? I’m still waiting for LucasArts to release a STAR WARS lightsaber duel videogame for Wii. This will surpass that *yawn* GUITAR HEROES that I’m so sick of hearing.

  2. I agree, for RPG’s and Adventure games the Wii hass a great new way of control. I remember I read about a upcoming Wii horror game in which almost everything is controlled bu the Wii remote. When you open your umbrella you have do that ‘move’
    for real. The problem with RPG’s is that for many these type of game feel a little dull. You walk, then suddenly get into a new screen where you have to fight turn-Based. It doesn’t feel like you really have total control. I recently bought Enchanted Arms for the 360 and after about 5 hours of play I got tired of the game. Mostly because you are just sitting back pressing a button sometimes. It’s to passive, but with the Wii this may change.

  3. Harry Potter – it did use the Wiimote and used it exactly like you would expect. Unfortunately, the rest of the game was poorly put together and didn’t make much traction in the marketplace (beyond what is expected for a big-budget EA game).

    Star Wars – LucasArts let the cat out of the bag a couple of months ago that there would be lightsaber dueling on the Wii in the Spring release “The Force Unleashed.” (it will also include player vs player dueling – glee!)

    The funny thing about the Wii is that we really haven’t seen any traditional RPGs or even Action-RPGs on the Wii – just adventure titles (and only the new Zelda has really taken advantage of the Wiimote as described here). This is really odd considering Nintendo still has good relations with most of the major RPG-makers. That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the new Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles that should be available for the Wii in Spring.

    This thread actually has gotten me thinking about the old PBeM game Firetop Mountain, which would be really trivial to do on the Wii…

  4. Maybe the software developers are still trying to figure how to make full use of the motion sensor control of the Wii-mote. I guess for EA’s Harry Potter game, they must have focused on the Wii-mote more so than the game itself, like how Bruckheimer and Bay focused on the CG bomb falling more so than on the whole Pearl Harbor screenplay.

    I hope LucasArts would follow up their lightsaber dueling game with a Wookie bowcaster shooting game (using the new Wii Zapper).

  5. James S. said:
    > This is a fascinating viewpoint that I’d actually have more

    Ooo… sorry to hear you’re one of the unfortunate Wii hunters. Even back when we got ours, in October, each store had them in stock, but had no more than one or two. Artificial shortage? Yep, I think so.

    Dai, I think you missed my meaning. I wouldn’t recruit new roleplayers by using the Wii to simulate dice rolling. I’d find an immersive Wii RPG experience, get casual gamers to give it a try, and tell them how this great game is very similar to any number of tabletop RPGs I’d be willing to run for them.

  6. Right on, Allan. The hope would be that people would play some RPG-like game on the Wii, love it, and then be told, “Surprise! You’ve been roleplaying all this time! Come try this tabletop version.”

  7. “Surprise! You’ve been roleplaying all this time! Come try this tabletop version.”

    Sadly, the probable response to this is to look crazy at you when you inform them that there will be no flashy graphics and they have to use their imagination. I had a similar reaction when I tried to start a anime club locally and they ran in terror when they (gasp!) had to actually READ subtitles and couldn’t grasp the concept that, if they wanted to see something they couldn’t just get from Netflix or buy on DVD, they’d have to meet things part-way.

  8. True. Even the best looking gateway product may not entice newbies to walk through the gate. Still, if even a small percentage of Wii gamers try a tabletop RPG, some may decide to keep playing. While the Wii has come close, console games still haven’t captured the social aspect of traditional RPGs yet.

  9. By social, you mean four players in front of a 20-inch screen? Don’t think Nintendo can handle trying to compute four motion-sensitive controllers without wires.

  10. Um… actually, four controllers are used at once in many Wii titles, and it functions fairly well.

    The social aspect of the Wii is the simple fact that it has brought gatherings of people together to play games. Maybe that’s due in part to the limited supply of machines – if you can’t buy one, you have to find a friend who has one – but in essence, bringing people together for gaming… well, that’s what tabletop games do as well, isn’t it?

  11. On the whole social gaming as roleplaying topic – check out Rock Band. Its a game that’s really only fun with multiple people and is über-easy to spend a few hours in.

  12. Agreed, Josh: Rock Band will *definitely* be entering our household in the near future, though we’re waiting a bit to make sure the reported guitar problems get sorted out. Having the strum button wear out after two hours of playing = unhappy Xmas.

  13. Rock Band? The one with the guitar and drum set?

    Hey, how about War Band: A Dungeons & Dragons Adventure?

  14. That idea is actually kind of brilliant. I for one would enjoy a sort of D&D karaoke a lot more than I enjoy D&D!

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