Jim Merrick

Nintendo's head of European marketing talks Revolution, innovation, competition and more in part one of our interview

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Jim Merrick: There were multiple objectives with the Revolution controller, certainly improving gameplay was one of them. But also one which speaks directly to the industrial design - we wanted the Revolution controller to be something relevant to every single person in the household, that is not intimidating, that looks like something you would pick up and use and your mother would pick up and use without looking at it and saying "That's not for me - that's not what I'm about." We very much wanted the Revolution controller living on the coffee table just like a TV remote does - part of your lifestyle, not something that has to be hidden away every time you've finished playing games.

You've got the GameCube - and I like Wavebirds so I use them these days - but you've got your GameCube in front of your TV and a huge tangle of wires, memory cards and discs and so on. It's not a good fit for the average lifestyle - it has to be put away. We wanted something that could be there as a natural part of your lifestyle all the time - so little things like being able to turn the Revolution on and off using the remote. We've expected that from televisions for a long time so why not our games systems? We've included little things that make it more tangible and more accessible to everybody.

Now, on to the magic of the wand itself: we've obviously seen the video and we've got some idea of what it can do. Why does Nintendo feel that the future of gaming relies so heavily on interaction in a 3D space?

Jim Merrick: You know, we've spent the last twenty years teaching ourselves to move up, down, left, right, forward and backward with our thumbs and it takes a bit of doing. To quickly target something in the opposite corner of the screen with an analogue controller is a bit of a trick - it's a less than perfect input device, but we've taught ourselves to use it as gamers. At the same time, we've created a barrier for none gamers with that stuff. But with this type of controller, what we call a Direct Pointing Device, it's like a laser pointer. If I want to point at the corner of the screen, I point at the corner of the screen - there's no lag time between when I think about looking at something and when I do. It's immediate, it's a much more direct form of control than can be accomplished today using analogue sticks or d-pads or even a mouse on a PC. So it truly improves just the X/Y co-ordinate entry.

But then you can take it a step forward and say I want to move front to back, I want to be able to zoom in on my scope on my sniper rifle for example, so why not just push the controller forward? The closer I move in, the more it zooms in - there are a lot of different ways of doing it - and yet, I still haven't pressed a single button on the controller yet. People say "You don't have enough buttons to support the games", but actually, I've got way more input than you're getting out of a standard controller and I haven't even pressed a button yet.

One of the examples we used in Japan was a simple flight simulator. I have a little bi-plane, it flies through a little Mario town - there's some bridges to fly under and rings to fly through and it was a really easy way to get a feel for what the controller can do. Because if you have to use the analogue controller, you're banking left and right, and your body is going left and right - or at least when I play, there's a lot of body English involved - but for Revolution, the easiest way is just to hold the controller like it's a model airplane and fly. Tilt it this way, tilt it that way, dive, pull it back up, do a loop - it's all very natural and I still haven't pressed a single button. There's no barrier for my manual dexterity and there's no need to educate myself how and which button does what, it just works.

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