As you know, the Wii was originally code named 'Revolution'. This name is fitting as the console was scoped to change how people gamed - not just increase the horsepower of the system.
I've always been a gamer. I grew up in the 80s, in the heyday of Arcades and the Video Game revolution. My father always supported my 'habit', but he never really played the games. He may play for a minute or two to humor you.. but even though he worked with computers full time, bringing them home for us, buying consoles and computers.. he was never really interested in games. He is just as computer savvy as anyone - just not really motivated to play with video games. This was inspite of having all the consoles of the time.. the 2600, the Colecovision, Intellivision, Coleco Adam, the original NES (with the robot), and many more after that.
My mother on the other hand has always been a little bit of a gamer in that she likes the puzzle type stuff. She used to play Tetris like crazy on my old GameBoy years after I was done with it. Galaga is her favorite game. She's the type to play with a handheld simple game, but not seek out a console, or even really seek out playing computer versions of games... even though she's always had computers in the house and is computer literate herself.
My children on the other hand are born to be gamers.. they have the gene Most were able to use the mouse, and play games by the time they were 3 on the computer... including loading the games, etc. Now they play online games, handhelds (3 DSs in the house, and my 3 year old insists she needs her own). My kids would play my old N64 a ton and they really liked DK, Mario, etc.
My wife is a puzzle gamer. She plays computer games mostly.. puzzle types are her favorite. She may dabble with the consoles (playing Mario type games) but puzzles are her bread and butter.
Initially I thought the Wii would be good in the house as I could play Zelda, and it would have games my kids would like. After trying a few times, I decided it wasn't worth the effort ... and the lack of HD video really torqued me off. I got a 360 and played that for awhile.
In the interim, my father got a Wii for his house for when the kids visit. The kids loved playing sports, etc. However, they found themselves playing it all the time.. even when the kids were not there! The Wii hit a nerve with them and they found themselves playing video games! Something they've never done.. and never done together at all! Now here they are almost 30 years after buying their children video games.. playing games themselves.. and not just playing.. playing A LOT! That is monumental. After seeing how my kids actually enjoyed playing the Wii so much, we decided to go on the hunt again for one. Eventually my father was able to find one (he's found 3 now.. one for him.. one for me.. one for my sister) and we loaded it up at my house for the kids to play. Just a week at home, we didn't get to play much before vacation started.
Fast forward to last week... we are on vacation together and my father brings their Wii. For the first time ever... not only am I playing video games WITH my parents... they are able to compete and not get blown away. Then we're playing games with people aged 3 to 56.. all in the same game! You can't do that with any previous system or most games without things being incredibly boring for some group. But here we are... 4 at a time lined up in front of the TV.. yelling.. cheering.. jeering... all over a video game!
My parents now are chomping at the bit to play each night as we get home! We spend close to 2 hours a night playing video games TOGETHER! Playing games like Mario Party 8 are great for mixing ages and skills. The board game dynamics make it so even a player who can dominate in the MiniGames isn't guaranteed to win.
So say what you want... but the games and the console have found a way to appeal to a MUCH larger audience then previous systems.. and provide games and interfaces that allow people of varying skill and experience to actually play TOGETHER.
I popped in Zelda for a few minutes just to get past the intros... I didn't really have much time to play, only logging about 10mins. But my 8 year old saw me playing and was FACINATED. She insisted on playing herself (even though I thought this type of game was well beyond her).. and now she begs constantly to play. She's logged about 5hrs of game play and is well on her way playing alone without any help from me, or any previous Zelda or similar game experience.
So now, our family has 3 Wii systems... the entire family plays TOGETHER... the parents who never played console games are lining people up to play them and comparing stats... my sister who swore they'd never have a console in their house has one and plays as well. My children (aged 3 to 9) all can enjoy the system, and can even play WITH people many years older then them.
The Wii truly is revolutionary in that it has managed to strike a chord with people that never would play games... and not only do they play, they enjoy it, and can mix audiences of all ages together.