The software interface of the Nintendo Wii console consists of a series of channels, one of which is the Forecast Channel. The Forecast Channel provides free, constantly updated local weather reports using an internet connection (The Wii probably determines your location via IP address or from info you provide, but I'm not certain whether you'll be able to check the weather of any location in the world on-the-fly). On its own, this feature should provide the game-player quick reference to the state of the weather without having to leave the couch or switching to the cable TV's weather channel. The function, along with the Wii's other multimedia functions, may also potentially serve to catch the interest of non-gamers to pick up the Wii-mote for the first time. But is that all there is to it? I'd like to think the Wii's weather channel can extend beyond just displaying information, that all these small bits of weather data being streamed to a game console can complement the gaming experience. One game in particular comes to mind that could take advantage of the weather function is Animal Crossing (check out GameSpot’s reviews on both releases to learn more about this unique role-playing-type game). Although I've not played the game myself--I have watched friends playing it--I can already see the potential. In the two versions of this game, the game clock is in sync with the system clock, which translates into real-time dynamic day/night cycles. This element is one of the keys to the game’s ability to immerse the player. In any form of media, immersion—in the sense that you feel you have become a part of the presented world and you forget you’re reading a book, watching a video, or playing a game, etc.—is achieved by effecting suspension of disbelief. Games accomplish this through key ways including visuals, audio (music and sound), story, compelling gameplay (how the player interacts with the game), and even force feedback. Not only could simulating real-time weather conditions potentially influence all of the above (e.g. in Animal Crossing, certain events, activities, behaviors, interactions, conversations, items, etc. are dependent upon the season/weather), it could draw the player deeper into a game world which dynamically reflects the current real world. In my own experiences, the game world I want to experience at any given time is influenced by my current mood, which can be considerably affected by the weather. Where I live, I see the stereotypical four seasons, with blazing, humid summers and very cold, snowy winters. In winter especially I feel compelled to play in game environments which include, well, wintery worlds, such as Phendrana Drifts (Metroid Prime), Freezeezy Peak (Banjo-Kazooie), and Snow Mountain (The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask). I feel more cold, chilled and for some reason more excited to adventure through these worlds (especially during my first play-through) during cold winter months. It would also be awesome to experience some of the most ridiculous drastic weather changes I’ve come across in life in-game in real-time: literally in one hour’s time from mostly clear, high visibility, wind-breaker weather to overcast, blizzard-like conditions. On the GameCube and DS versions of Animal Crossing, weather conditions are generated by the game since neither system could conveniently receive input data about current weather conditions. However, with the Wii and thanks to Nintendo’s WiiConnect24 service and dedicated forecast function, weather data relevant to generating real-time weather in-game can be readily supplied. Some at-a-glance (and at low bandwidth costs) weather data relevant to this end that are available through online weather services (such as that found at weather.com) include temperature, visibility, wind behavior (direction, strength, gusting, etc.), precipitation, accumulation of precipitation, and cloudiness/fogginess. Heck, the game could even provide real-time inclement weather watches/warnings. As exciting and immersive the feature would be, real-time weather should still be an option you can toggle on and off. The most obvious reason is that not everyone who will own a Wii will have internet access. And of course, not everyone experiences the same wide spectrum of weather conditions as others due to where one lives. Moreover, sometimes escapism is what is desired, and having local weather simulated in one’s game isn’t likely to help. Thus, a subtle on-screen indicator is needed to let the player know whether real-time weather is being applied. This would be especially convenient in another interesting aspect of real-time weather in a game like Animal Crossing: visiting other people’s towns in different parts of the world. The indicator, an icon or something, will let you know at-a-glance whether the weather of the town you’re visiting is reflecting that of your friend’s local weather. Using real-time weather for gameplay doesn’t need to be limited to reproducing the same weather conditions. The game designer could choose to use the weather data to intentionally generate contrasting conditions or to create unique individual states. The latter feature could work similarly to how the recently released PSP game Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (as I understand it) generates unique characters—recruits—through gathering “packages” or states of unique data via Wi-Fi (“war-driving” for different ISPs) and via the PSP GPS unit. In the Wii’s case, these unique data sets are produced using local weather data. So, comments are welcome on my very first blog post ever (which I agree is too long :-p), particularly on other interesting ideas related to the topic!