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What's Wrong with Modern Console Design? 87

Next Generation is running an article looking at the design of the next-gen consoles. Article author Eric-Jon Rossel-Waugh argues that the new systems have lost their sense of identity, due to high monetary stakes and the need for consoles to 'say something' to the consumer. From the article: "In May, I finally saw a PlayStation 3 up-close - and dear lord. It looks like a space ship based on the template of a waffle iron. Whereas the Sega Genesis looked like you could top-load a CD into it, the PS3 looks like you could top-load a side of bacon. It was around this point that I realized, on the surface, none of the forthcoming-generation consoles really strikes me as a game machine. Building on the PS2, both Sony and Microsoft have chosen to outwardly craft their systems to resemble nothing so much as random hunks of pop electronics."
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What's Wrong with Modern Console Design?

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  • by Erwos ( 553607 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:02PM (#15841800)
    I couldn't help but notice all his favorite consoles, excepting the Wii, are top-loaders (the NES gets this dubious distinction because of its door). Top-loading was a stupid idea that made consoles a pain to fit into entertainment centers. Using this particular metric, modern console design has gotten infinitely better - this generation, no one's got a top-loader.

    I also think the 360's "ring of light" is both attractive and functional, so I'm not sure why he bags on that console so much.

  • Fascinating.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MBraynard ( 653724 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:07PM (#15841835) Journal
    Were it posted on a thread here, it would be modded -1 troll ('One man's opinion on console design'....)

    But submit that -1 comment as story and it gets a green light.

    A lot of work went into the design and shape of the 360. It actually has an intentional theme (though that theme is not so clear if you lay it on it's side as I'm sure most do). I do not know about the PS3, but I saw a vid on the designers working throuh the aesthetics of both the box itself and the on-screen interface and it's pretty fun and functional.

    If you lined a bunch of these devices up in a row and asked a chick to pick one, I think the 360 would come away with a plurality.

  • by kinglink ( 195330 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:15PM (#15841905)
    He's a hater pure and simple.

    Apparently he doesn't like the NES design
    Or the Xbox
    Or the Gamecube,
    Or the Ps2
    Or the Ps3
    Or the Xbox 360
    Or the Wii
    Or the Jaguar.

    But apparently the Gensis, Master system and Dreamcast were great for him. That's wonderful, except Sega's not around for a reason, Sega might knows how to make a good looking game system, but if you can't make a good game system under it you get screwed.

    Personally I think anyone who thinks any of the current systems needs a redesign might be right, but let's be honest. The best looking system can still not work. I owned a genesis and a NES, a Super Nes, A N64 (which was "sleak" but crap) a Gamecube, a PSX, a PS2, and a Xbox 360. And if I had to go back in time but not get one of them, guess which one it would be? The Genesis.

    Gamers arn't looking for a good looking game system, gamers are looking for a good playing game system. Genesis is the most game system looking out of my list, but the fact is that it didn't help it be a good actual game system in the least is the real problem.

    I mean look at the grandfathers of our industry. The Atari with it's ugly ridges and huge switches. Oooooh baby.+
  • by twistedsymphony ( 956982 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:15PM (#15841907) Homepage
    I couldn't agree more... He complains that modern consoles look like random hunks of pop electronics.. but since when have they NOT looked like that. Consoles have always gone for pop styling. If they were going for the mundaine they'd look like my DVD player or my surround sound reciever. Rectangular in shape, 19" wide, Circular metal feet, tray loading with a standby light and an LCD. Consoles are still distinctivly consoles. They always followed the cultural stylings of the time, it just happens that our stylings used to be different then they are now.

    Not to mention if you go pickup an older console they feel like cheap plastic toys. where at newer consoles feel like solid AV equipment. I think the turning point for that was the PS2. Maybe that's what he's talking about? I don't know I sort of like the fact that my White Xbox 360 is likly to STAY white unlike all my old grey consoles that now have a yellow tinge to some of their plastic parts.
  • Enough FUD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lally Singh ( 3427 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:15PM (#15841908) Journal
    Congrats, Zonk! You just made my killfile!
  • by anjin-san 3 ( 983912 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:23PM (#15841975)
    he rags on the 360 because he's a bitter Sega fanboy. The entire article is about how none of the modern consoles look as cool as the genesis and dreamcast in his eyes.
  • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:48PM (#15842174)
    he rags on the 360 because he's a bitter Sega fanboy.

    I'm normally skeptical whenever someone accuses a writer in the mainstream gaming press of being a "fanboy", but then I read this:

    If any one company has really reveled in contemporary console design, that would probably be Sega. The Master System, Genesis, and Dreamcast all glory in their forms, the former two being off-kilter, ornate, attention-grabbing, and plastered with huge logos. Likewise, with its brilliant white shell, orange decorations, four controller ports, and sleek-yet-bubbly facade, the Dreamcast both declares defiantly, in a no-nonsense voice, that it is a game console and that it is meant as a conscious reversal of Sega's fortunes - sort of a new start for the company. (White and orange are the opposite of black and blue.)


    Okay, I like most of Sega's designs well enough, but there's nothing any more special about any of them than anybody else's. And the Dreamcast was probably about as innocuous and nondescript as it gets; it's a plain white box of a top-loading CD player. (Besides, if the design declared such a bold "new start" for the company, it obviously didn't do a very good job of it.)

    I've been around video gaming since 1977 when Atari's VCS hit the market. (No, I can't claim to remember the days of the Fairchild Channel-F, unfortunately.) I've seen, and in fact own, pretty much every console that's come along since then. I don't see how today's systems are really any different than systems of the past; consoles have always tried to capture something about the essence of the era in which they're produced while at the same time seeking to stand out from the pack. They've also always been consciously designed such that they don't fit in with other electronics in a standard rack system; the idea is to make the system the center of attention, without making it so gaudy or unreasonable that customers resist it.

    So he doesn't like the PS3 or Xbox 360 (I didn't even read what he said about the Wii). Fair enough. But throughout history, for every console design success, there has been a corresponding failure. Whereas the Coleco Vision was an all-American hot rod of a look, the Atari 5200 was just a big, bulky triangle of a machine. He seems to have liked the NES, but he's apparently never seen the original red and gold trimmed FamiCom, one of the ugliest systems ever produced, with curves and edges in all the wrong places.

    And so it goes. I don't think any of this is specific to any era. There are only good designers and bad designers, and personal tastes to go along with them. You may or may not like today's consoles, but they're no better or worse - and certainly not fundamentally different in concept - than the designs of yesteryear's consoles.
  • by grammar fascist ( 239789 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:56PM (#15842227) Homepage
    Give Zonk a break. He covers games. There's not much useful out there right now.

    Anyway, from the article:
    The Wii, meanwhile, is simply inscrutable: a scant, featureless rectangle with an eerie blue glow. At a stretch, you might confuse it for an external DVD-R drive.
    So it looks like something you could put a DVD into. Isn't something similar what he thought was cool about the Sega Genesis?

    The article is just a useless rant against nothing.

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