By Lisa Baertlein (Los Angeles Reuters)
Japan's Nintendo has been on a mission to expand the $30 billion global video game market far beyond the children and young males who make up its core consumers.
And the company, a former underdog best known for fun, high-quality games based on off-beat characters like plumbers -- think Mario Bros. -- has sent shock waves through game industry with the unexpected and runaway success of the Wii.
That $250 console has been stealing the show from Microsoft Corp.'s
While those rivals focused on cutting-edge graphics and high-tech bells and whistles, Nintendo focused on making game play easier, more intuitive and more appealing to a mass market.That bet paid off.
The Wii outsold the new Microsoft and Sony consoles in January and February and is generating its own buzz with everyone from nuns to cancer patients to toddlers.
There are Wii parties and Wii bowling contests. Players, who often look quite silly and occasionally injure themselves in fits of overzealous play, upload video of their Wii antics to a variety of technology Web sites like GameTrailers.com and Google's