James' tale of a 360 that manages to inveigle its way into a loving relationship is heartwarming, but here's the other side of the story--something you may be more familiar with.
Ever since the Xbox 360 arrived in our household it's resolutely failed to win over the attentions of the resident non-gamers. Despite successful outings socially, it's been relegated to a back room while the best TV in the house shows Neighbours and EastEnders rather than PGR3 or Perfect Dark Zero.
The problem? Despite next-generation processing power and graphics, a swish user interface and multimedia integration, none of the 360's functionality is actually much use to the people I live with. Its DVD playback is jerky, especially compared to our dedicated player; the ability to stream music from my PC is pointless when we already have MTV and other British music video channels. While the games look great, there's no real difference from previous generations to their untutored eyes.
I've tried countless tricks with my boyfriend, from asking him to beat my scores on Live Arcade titles to encouraging him to help me play King Kong. I hoped to surprise him into a moment of acceptance, but nothing's worked so far. The main objection is not to the idea of gaming itself--he's used to me spending countless hours in front of a PC or console, and occasionally shares my habit--but to the 360's seemingly undeserved intrusion into my wallet and time.
For the amount of money I've lavished on the 360, my boyfriend and housemates were expecting something really special. They didn't get it. Instead, they complain that "the Xbox 360's just three hundred and sixty times as pointless" and ask me if I can turn it down from the next room--there's some vital plot happening on TV.
Games that have passed the boyfriend test include Mario Kart DS, SingStar and the Monkey Island series, so perhaps some real innovation on the Xbox 360 platform will cause him to rethink his opinion. But for now it seems the 360 will only have an occasional starring role in our house--so I'd better get really cosy in the spare room.