What the Switch Means to Me
I’ll begin with a disclaimer: I’m writing this for myself. I’m publishing this op-ed without editorial oversight or peer review. I want to dump my thoughts publicly as the past week has been filled with private Discord channels with our community. I appreciate your feedback to this brief posting that summarizes my feelings on the Nintendo Switch nearly 1 week into it’s existence.
The last time I treasured a single piece of technology the way I treasure the Switch, was the original Gameboy. As the youngest of 4, I never had ownership of anything in our home; save for my bed, which I likely wet just to mark my territory. I would sleep with it, take it to school in a protective case and limit anybody else using it. That was 1990 – I was 7 years old. Now, at 33, I find myself cradling the Switch in a similar fashion. It’s taken a week for me to figure out why. Effectively, the Switch is a personal gaming device that has actually lived up to the hype. For months I’ve been looking forward to the console, and Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The latter may become my favorite game of all time. The Switch physically feels brilliant – it’s manufactured with care and deliberately designed to bring the most out of Nintendo’s software prowess. If you’ve read any of my nearly 700 postings on GWW, you know I’m a tech geek. I love consumer hardware such as laptops, tablets and phones. Over the past several years, I can’t say with pride that any gaming console (mobile or home) has been built with a level of quality that matches an iPhone or Pixel. The PS4 is the best home console you can buy, but it’s shell is plastic. The 3DS has a tremendous library, but it’s ugly and disproportionate. The Switch, however, is gorgeous.
What makes the Switch personal is all in the design of the console. It’s slick, portable, fragile, and quirky. It’s not like a phone or tablet device that anybody can just pick up and intuitively use. It’s not difficult to understand and use once you get a quick tour, but it does require a tour otherwise you risk damaging the screen, stand or Joy-Cons. So, yes, like the Gameboy, I am protective of my new console. But there is more to my feelings. This device is beautiful, rare, difficult to replace, and represents possibly Nintendo’s last chance at hardware. Nobody wants to see Nintendo vanish. Over the past several years, most critics have questioned Nintendo’s viability as a hardware manufacturer, but always praise their software development prowess. No developer has a better software development history than Nintendo. Combined with the precious Switch and it’s a recipe for success unlike anything I’ve seen before.
My play experience has been exceptional thus far. I’ve found the console to be just as dynamic as advertised. I’ve played at least 12 hours of Zelda from a variety of places: my couch, an airplane, a hotel, my bed, and my office. I even played in an Uber. All the while without ever feeling like I was having a “lesser” gaming experience in any scenario. The device is extremely charming. It makes refreshing clicks both physically and virtually (speakers). In fact, I can’t replicate it, but I swear when I reconnected the Joy-Cons physically to the console while playing Zelda, Link freaking snapped his fingers! I’m 99% certain. Only Nintendo has shown an attention to detail like this – please correct me if I’m wrong. I try to be objective but my emotions can run wild.
Back in January, I wrote a similar personal editorial about the Switch, primarily centered around my expectations and asking fans of video games to rally and try to support Nintendo; if not with their dollars, then at least with their words. It may be difficult to understand or agree with, but I feel we need Nintendo to be successful with the Switch. Nintendo is an innovator and must have ownership over the hardware they develop on in order to continue innovating. What happens when they do not own the hardware? See Mario Run….
For me, the Switch is living up to the hype and for the first time since my childhood, I am having detailed discussions with friends about a game. In this case, Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Particularly, my Gaming @ 30 co-hosts. Tonight we’re recording our first podcast since the Switch launched and we’re going to bring a lot of our private chat to the show. We are 3 adult men with wives and children that have each played more then 10 hours of the game and have had completely different experiences. Zelda isn’t the first game to offer varied experiences, but it is the first I’ve played that heavily persuades me to discuss it.
These are the ramblings of an old gamer but still a young man. I’m all into the Switch and for the first time in a decade, I have a positive outlook on Nintendo’s future.