They are gaming's extras. The add-ons. The bits that are outside the core elements. And I hate them.
Well, not all of them. Those who have a solid fighting stick or a solid driving wheel, are able to use those peripherals in game after game, experience after experience. These peripherals work best because they are not dedicated to only a handful of titles and they can actual one up the player's experience.
Yes, pictured right up there is the Wii Fit Balance Board. It is the experience. Unlike a fighting game or a driving game or even a light gun game, you must have this peripheral to play. While cleaning out my closet this past weekend, I found it in the back of a closet, wrapped in bubble wrap and covered in dust. I somehow had forgotten that I owned the Balance Board, but there it was, taking up space.
Please be aware that I do not hate Wii Fit. It's a novel, interesting product. What I loathe is that after my Wii Fit experience has ended, and I have moved on to other experiences, I am stuck with a peripheral.
Obviously, the Balance Board can be used with a few other games. I, however, do not own those games. I own Wii Fit.
We live in an age when everything is getting streamlined. My cell phone has a 5 megapixel camera in it. I can listen to music on it. I can send emails with it. I can watch television, movies and talk to my co-workers through my computer. The number of individual items I own has been steadily decreasing, but I still feel like I'm occasionally getting stuck with peripherals: fake gun looking things, steering wheels, plastic instruments and a myriad of controllers.
What irks me the most about these other dedicated peripherals is space. They eat it up. They clutter. They become knick-knacks.
The initial experience with these peripherals, but unlike a standard Wii Remote, DualShock 3 or Xbox 360 Controller, these peripherals do not move smoothly between genres and titles. They are a party favor that exists long after the party has ended. They are gaming's version of a hangover.
So console manufacturers! Publishers! Please, please bear in mind our closets are only so big. We want new experiences, but we just don't want to be overloaded with stuff with those experiences have ended. Project Natal is showing us fewer peripherals — or barely any — is possible. More importantly, the Wii Remote have already showed us that. Nintendo made an extremely versatile controller with the Wii-mote. It's works for traditional input, driving, shooting. You just can't stand on it and have it weigh you. Unfortunately.
With the successful of recent games like Rock Band, dedicated peripherals won't be going away anytime in the future. If companies can show that they're not just selling a game, but a gaming platform forged in plastic, gamers can look forward to cluttered closets for years and years to come.