Yearning for Color in Black and White Game Consoles

By  |  Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 5:08 pm

It makes little sense that I miss having Nintendo’s GameCube in my living room. The Wii plays GameCube games, and it has a slimmer profile, but something’s lacking. Frankly, I think it’s the GameCube’s indigo shell.

I came to ponder color in game consoles — that is, in their physical design — while reading about Sony’s plans to release a white Playstation 3 in Japan. That completes the trifecta; with the Wii and Xbox 360 both going black, all three current gaming consoles have reversed polarity, or at least offered the option for customers to do so.

But isn’t there room for game consoles in the middle of the color spectrum? Not if history’s any indication. Take a few minutes to scroll through TheGameConsole.com’s brief retrospective of home gaming systems. You’ll find a few funky outliers — Magnavox’s Odyssey 300 from 1976 was bright yellow — but for the most part game consoles come in black, white or gray.

The exception to this rule is portable gaming. Nintendo’s DSi XL comes in debuted in burgundy, and the DSi launched stateside in black or light blue (white and pink followed). Though Sony’s PSP comes mainly in black in the United States, blockbuster games are sometimes accompanied by limited edition color PSPs.

I think I understand why this happens. Portable consoles are a personal thing, onto which gamers can project their self-image with color. At home, a game console’s best bet is to blend in. Entertainment centers are black tie affairs, so don’t be the only set-top box wearing a Hawaiian shirt, so to speak.

Thing is, game consoles are supposed to be the fun ones, the crazy uncles that do all the fun party tricks. Colorful game consoles may not be totally appropriate, but the living room just feels a little too bland without one.

 
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6 Comments For This Post

  1. Tommy Carlier Says:

    You're right, I like my devices to have a bit of color. Last week, I bought a Sansa Clip+ MP3 player, which they offer in black, blue or dark red. I chose the dark red, because you don't see a lot of dark red devices. It's got character.

  2. Leslie Says:

    Not too fond of a white console. I liked the black one. Looks classic, sleek, elegant. Having them in colors seemed to be targeted to younger audience. But I wouldn't mind funky colors like orange or bright yellow. I agree with Tommy too, red looks nice.

  3. Stilgar Says:

    If you're willing to pay extra, you can get a very nice, custom paint job from colorwarepc.com.

  4. Paul Judd Says:

    While the idea s nice, the other reason most console makers stick to one or two different colors and not much else is that retailers have to carry them and devote extra shelf space. Not to mention that these companies have different SKU's for all of the different bundles or feature differentiations, I wager that Console makers are trying to get as much product sold as possible while simplifying production. Consoles take up space and retailers only will dedicate so much room. Handhelds are easier to get away with since they are smaller.

    It is nice to see it happen every once in awhile, but the home console makers avoid it for the reasons mentioned above.

  5. JaredNewman Says:

    That's true if you're talking about one console with many SKUs. But why not release a console with a colorful design by default? GameCube debuted in black and indigo, and the latter was marketed most. Nintendo embraced the purple-blue color as a main option rather than an alternative to black, gray or white.

  6. Devin R Says:

    You could pick up a new face plate for the 360. I've had a woodgrain faceplate on mine since 2006. It adds a nice touch of nostalgia to the room.

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