When you hear the words “asymmetrical gameplay,” it’s hard not to think of the U.S. military. For the better part of the past decade, the Pentagon has been focusing on “asymmetrical warfare,” which is fancy speak for battling terrorists and insurgents.
Fighting other nations – the sort of warfare that had existed for centuries – usually involved a certain amount of symmetry. You generally knew who the enemies were and how they might hit you. Asymmetrical warfare is a relatively new, imbalanced kind of battle where the enemy doesn’t have the same resources and therefore doesn’t play by the same rules as you do. It’s essentially a rebranded version of guerrila warfare.
Funnily enough, the term is starting to apply to video games – a technology that was invented by the military back in the 1960s – and is proving to be a major trend at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.
Leading the charge is Nintendo, which has coined the term “asymmetrical gameplay” to describe its new Wii U console. The idea has been around for years but it’s only now becoming mainstream with the company focusing on it as the console’s central selling point.
The Wii U, which will be released this fall, plays video games much like a regular console. There’s a handheld controller with buttons and thumbsticks that direct the action on the television screen. However, the controller – known as a GamePad – also has a touch screen, as well as a gyroscopic tilt sensor, camera and microphone, which introduces several new elements to games.