A “Switch” in gaming: New Nintendo console released amid popularity of phone games

by Kathy Fang, Reporter

With its release on March 3, Nintendo’s newest video game console, the Nintendo Switch, seems to push the future of video game consoles closer to mobile phone technology because the Switch can be detached and reassembled into a tablet-like structure, allowing for on-the-go play.

The Switch consists of a dock that can connect to a TV, a portable touch-screen console that can be slipped inside the dock for playing on a bigger screen and a controller that can be separated into two Joy-Con controllers. These Joy-Cons can either be used like a Wii Remote, which is a motion sensing controller, or attached to the sides of the touch-screen to form a mobile console.

“It’s a portable home console, so you can take it anywhere, wherever you go. I bring mine to work—at lunch I play, and any chance I get to play I play—and when I go home I just put it on the dock. I can sit down and relax and just keep playing, so it doesn’t hinder my gaming experience,” Enrique Lopez, a senior game advisor at GameStop, said. “As far as some of the flaws it has, I guess it would just be the Joy-Cons. I just don’t like how the triggers feel. They kind of make it seem super fragile.”

At the upper school, 50.5% of students play games on their laptop, 78.2% play games on their phone and 17.8% play games on a console, according to a Winged Post survey of 101 students. Due to the surge in the popularity of phone and laptop games, companies that specialize in designing video game consoles have been trying to integrate mobile technology with traditional consoles.

For example, in 2012, Nintendo released the Wii U, a console that also included a touch-screen GamePad. However, the Wii U was discontinued early this year. According to Nintendo, the Wii U has only sold 13.56 million hardware units and 96.52 million software units as of December 31, 2016. In comparison, the Nintendo 3DS, which is another portable video game console released in 2011, has sold 65.3 million hardware units and 320.96 million software units as of December 31, 2016.

Despite these attempts to blend mobile and at-home console technology, many are faithful to their at-home systems.

“I like consoles because they’re just more powerful,” physics teacher Scott Pflaumer, who plays video games on both a console a computer, said. “You can have so much better graphics, and the screen is bigger.”

Because video game consoles have been around for longer than phone or laptop games, there is a greater variety.

“People play console games because they like the games,” Mihir Sharma (9), whose favorite game is [WILL ASK] said. “There’s a lot more power you can get with a console because they’re designed for video games, and there are more fun games.”

Moreover, a console is made to be a lot more specific to gaming.

“Whenever you get on the computer, I feel like I’m supposed to be doing work,” dance teacher Rachelle Haun, who enjoys playing said. “When I move away onto my TV, obviously it’s just for relaxation.”

As the future of video games moves away from TV systems and more towards mobile consoles, the truth behind the traditional teenage male gamer stereotype is being called into question, especially with the additional preconception that girls only play phone games such as Candy Crush

“I don’t think [the male nerd gaming stereotype] really has [changed], and I also don’t think I necessarily fit into that stereotype because I would not say I’m a very serious gamer in that respect, and I think most people associate gamers with just those ‘dude-bros’ who do nothing but play video games all day, all eating junk food,” gamer Serena Lu (11), said. “That’s the vision I get. I don’t think the stereotype has changed much, although there is some more progress, and I guess it also depends on what kind of video games you play.”

Even with the confines of this stereotype, women have been playing on consoles more recently in the past decade as well, which is yet another sign of advancement toward gender equality in the entertainment industry. However, the fact that the stereotype still exists is a clear sign of the existing gender gap, although the Switch design seems to be trying to appeal to everyone, breaking past the stereotype’s boundaries.

This piece was originally published in the pages of The Winged Post on March 28, 2017.