1. Playing Wii Sports Tennis for the first time was the most revelatory, breakthrough gaming experience I've had since I first saw Myst in the mid 90s. It's truly one of those transformations where you immediately think: this whole medium is capable of something radically different from what we've expected of it to date.
2. Others may disagree, but from my perspective, Wii Tennis is so much better than all the other Wii Sports games that part of me wonders whether the controller interface is in fact uniquely suited for tennis games, and will prove to be a disappointment elsewhere. (I'm sure it will be wonderful for golf, actually -- I just have higher expectations for golf sims than the Wii Sports version.) Wii Bowling, to its credit, probably sets some kind of record for being the closest approximation of a real-world sport in the history of games. Other than the weight of the ball itself, there's basically no difference between bowling in real life and bowling on the Wii. Not being a huge fan of bowling personally, I consider this to be both good and bad news.
3. Wii Tennis is the first videogame since the second SimCity that my wife has taken even the slightest interest in playing. This alone leads me to believe that they have a massive, category-changing hit on their hands.
4. Part of the beauty of Wii Tennis is what they left out. It's absolutely crucial to the game that you don't control the players' movements, that they just chase the balls on their own. If you'd added player-controlled movement, the learning curve would have been much more steep. Same goes for letting a single player control both onscreen players in a doubles match without actively switching between them. By removing those variables, they made a game where it's fun to play the second you pick up the controller. (For what it's worth, I still think they should add an "accelerate" button for shots that your onscreen player won't reach on his or her own. If you press the button your onscreen avatar will run just a little faster in whatever direction he or she is running.)
5. Having written so much about the complexity of today's games, it's fascinating to see a platform so heavily promoting its comparative simplicity. But I think the success of the Wii is slightly more complicated than that. Wii Sports trades the onscreen complexity of goals and objectives and puzzles for the physical, haptic complexity of bodily movement. Since the days of Pong, games have been simplifying the intricacies of movement into unified codes of button pressing and joystick manipulation. What strikes you immediately playing Wii Sports -- and particularly Tennis -- is this feeling of fluidity, the feeling that subtle, organic shifts in your body's motion will lead to different results onscreen. My wife has a crosscourt slam she hits at the net that for the life of me I haven't been able to figure out; I have a topspin return of soft serves that I've half-perfected that's unhittable. We both got to those techniques through our own athletic experimentation with various gestures, and I'm not sure I could even fully explain what I'm doing with my killer topspin shot. In a traditional game, I'd know exactly what I was doing: hitting the B button, say, while holding down the right trigger. Instead, my expertise with the shot has evolved through the physical trial-and-error of swinging the controller, experimenting with different gestures and timings. And that's ultimately what's so amazing about the device. Games for years have borrowed the structures and rules -- as well as the imagery -- of athletic competition, but the Wii adds something genuinely new to the mix, something we'd ignored so long we stopped noticing that it was missing: athleticism itself.