E3: Scott Dier Interview

June 5, 2006

With the Wii, Nintendo has said that playing is believing. This is the flag beneath which the new console is being sailed upon the so-called blue ocean, and when it came down to the week of E3 and Nintendo’s Media Briefing at the famous Kodak Theatre, one person, Scott Dier of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, was called up on stage as the winner of a contest held by AOL to stand shoulder to shoulder with Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, game designer Shigeru Miyamoto and Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of sales & marketing (who incidentally has since been promoted to Nintendo of America’s president and chief operating officer). Dier then was handed a Wiimote, and played a Wii Sports: Tennis doubles match alongside the four gentlemen.

Oftentimes as media we can find ourselves approaching new consoles and games with blinders on. We claim to simply be gamers, but it is easy to loose touch with what it is like to be an average game enthusiast eying the industry from the outside. To that end, we spoke with Scott Dier following his experience at the media briefing and E3 to get his thoughts on the event, as well as on the Wii itself.

Hi Scott. Thank you for speaking with us regarding you experience at Nintendo’s Media Briefing. I guess to begin, it would be helpful to hear how you classify yourself as a gamer?

I would say that I’m a much more casual gamer than most. I play games more than my parents but not half as much as my brother or some of the students I work with.

What are some of your favorite games and fondest memories related to gaming in general?

My first memories of gaming were either Q*bert on Coleco or Hunt the Wumpus on a TI-99/4A. I wouldn’t call those my favorite games by far, but they are the reference point I look back to and compare how far games have come since that long ago. My favorite games include Secret of Mana, many of the Final Fantasy series, Super Mario World, and more recently Katamari Damacy.

Speaking of fond memories, it must have been thrilling to hear your name called during the Nintendo Media Briefing as the winner of the AOL contest. What was going through your mind when you heard your name and first walked up on stage?

I was very excited about my name being called as the winner of the AOL contest. It was even more of a rush because the chance to play with Mr. Iwata and Mr. Miyamoto had not been disclosed as part of winning the contest before we traveled to LA. Mr. Miyamoto created many of the games that I played as a kid and I never imagined even shaking his hand at some point in my life.

Many in the media, myself included, were surprised at how light the Wii controller felt once we got hold of it. What did you think of the Wii controller when you first held it?

The Wii’s controller is not as large or as heavy as you’d think looking at the initial images distributed on the internet.

What was the experience like for you, getting the play Wii Sports: Tennis on stage with Reggie, Iwata,and Miyamoto?

Playing on stage was thrilling, even a simple game of tennis was a bit more fun because of the controller. I was surprised at how much it feels like playing a game with people rather than just people controlling a game. We’ve got the problem where my brother is able to beat us on all the button mashing mini-games on Mario Party but I’m guessing those days are soon to be over.

Was playing truly believing, as Nintendo said, for you? How has playing the Wii first hand changed your perception of the upcoming console?

One of my friends had a bad experience years ago with a Microsoft controller that if the motion was too wild you couldn’t get the controller to believe you were holding it flat and level unless you reset it. I didn’t have that problem with the Wii’s controller — it seems more polished than other types of gaming motion based systems than I’ve heard of or used in the past and it changed how I initially felt about the controllers for the Wii console.

What, for you, is the console’s most compelling feature?

I think the most compelling feature of the Wii is that Nintendo wants to provide a fun gaming experience every time the console is used. They are focused on large issues like new control methods and small issues like load times — they aren’t focused on specifications.

Of course it’s all about the games, right? So what Wii title are you most excited about?

I didn’t get a chance to play Red Steel at E3 as my wife was simply exhausted and we made the mistake of checking out the Nintendo booth towards the end of the day (we only stayed in LA for one day of the conference), but I am really excited on how the controller could make console-based first-person shooter games more intuitive.

I’m curious, how do you think Nintendo and the Wii stack up against the competition coming from Microsoft and Sony in the next-generation?

I think that Nintendo has the best value for an overall fun gaming experience compared to other next-gen systems. The other platforms just do not appear to have games I’m interested in yet. Square had a very impressive trailer of Final Fantasy XIII at E3, but since it won’t be out there at system release it’s hard for me to get excited about Sony’s offering at release.

Finally, has Nintendo convinced you to buy a Wii at launch?

It honestly depends on the release date. I’m not crazy enough to be outside in the Minnesota winter weather. If the console is released in November (as is rumored at this point) standing in line to purchase a Wii, remembering how crazy the Xbox 360 release was, would entail camping out overnight in below-freezing weather. I’d probably order it through. Amazon as soon as its available and hope I get it soon after release.