The Big Ideas Behind Nintendo's Wii

Two members of the development team take us behind the scenes of the creation of the new console. Among the goals: spur innovation and please moms

When Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata offered the gaming public a glimpse of the company's next-generation home-entertainment system during the Tokyo Game Show in September, 2005, he was hardly prepared for the stunned silence that followed. "It was as though the audience didn't know how to react," he recalls. But now, as Nintendo prepares for the Nov. 19 launch of its console, dubbed Wii (pronounced "we"), many of the early reviews have been glowing.

The reason: Nintendo's new controller. The device resembles a TV remote but with fewer buttons. It relies on wireless technology with built-in motion sensors to translate movement directly onto a TV screen. Wii can be swung like a tennis racket, twirled like a steering wheel, or pointed at the screen like a gun. BusinessWeek Tokyo correspondent Kenji Hall recently talked with two members of the development team, Shigeru Miyamoto and veteran designer Ken'ichiro Ashida, about developing the Wii and getting inspiration from cell phones, earlier consoles-and moms. Edited excerpts from their conversation follow.

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