The world has officially been introduced to the seventh generation of console gaming. The release of Microsoft’s Xbox 360, the more recent Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii has brought much anticipated excitement to the gaming community. A few of the new ideas behind the seventh generation of console gaming are never before seen technologies, dual packaging and the broadening of the consumer demographic.The Xbox 360 was released on Nov. 22, 2005, in the United States, which was almost a full year before its competitors released new systems. The early release gave Xbox 360 a leading edge in sales, having sold six million consoles before PS3 or Wii even released. The year also worked to Sony and Nintendo’s advantage, giving them time to counteract with advertising and hype and to solve technical issues. Xbox 360’s major appealing component, aside from an early release, is that Microsoft offers two different package types, Xbox 360 Premium Package and an Xbox 360 Core System. Both packages include Xbox Live silver, which is free of charge and allows users to create a user profile, join message boards and access the Arcade and Marketplace. The premium package also provides a month subscription to Xbox Live gold, which allows online game play. Other features of the premium package include a detachable 20 GB hard drive, an Ethernet cable, an Xbox Live headset, wireless gamepads and a chrome, decorative finish. Xbox 360 is backwards compatible; however, a hard drive and the downloading of an emulation profile are needed in order to play original Xbox games. Currently, there are 298 games, about 30% of the total Xbox game library, which can be played on the new console. On Nov. 17, 2006, Sony released its PlayStation 3 (PS3), and with it came the promise as stated by Sony that “every PlayStation and PlayStation 2 game that observes its respective system’s TRC (Technical Requirements Checklist) is playable on PS3,” without any upgrades. Sony also liked the idea of releasing two console packages, but their premium package console is comparably more impressive than its predecessor Xbox 360. The premium PlayStation 3 package comes with an upgradeable 60 GB hard drive, a Blu-ray drive, High-Definition Multimedia Interface, Bluetooth controller, flash card readers, built-in wireless LAN and a chrome, decorative finish. Sony’s basic package has a 20 GB hard drive, and everything else that is included in the premium package, aside from the flash card readers, built-in wireless LAN and chrome, decorative finish. Release suggested retail prices for Xbox 360 and PS3 are marginal. Xbox 360 priced their core package at $300, and their premium package at $400. Sony’s PS3 is notably higher, with the basic package releasing at $500 and the premium package priced at $600. Nintendo’s Wii is a new concept in console gaming that infuses old school Nintendo with the feel of real life action. The Wii was released on Nov. 19, 2006, two days after the PS3. When Nintendo was creating Wii they were not looking to make your standard “I can do everything” console, but instead were looking to make a different gaming experience for a wider demographic. The main feature of the Wii is that it does not have typical gamepads that the public has grown accustomed to. Now, gamers can get off the couch and move around a little bit via the Wii remote and Nunchuk. “Sporting the size of a traditional [TV] remote control, the wireless Wii remote is a multifunctional device that is limited only by the game designer’s imagination. In a tennis game, it serves as your racket you swing with your arm. In a driving game, it serves as your steering wheel. For first-person shooters, the Wii remote acts as your weapon that you point at an enemy,” www.wii.com states. Nintendo’s hope with this console was to capture the interest of many different kinds of people, instead of the typical gamer, male and ages 15 – 35. Nintendo created “Wii,” spelled with two lowercase “i” characters to represent two people standing side by side, players gathering together and the console’s controllers. Though the Wii is not the power-horse that the Xbox 360 and certainly the PS3 are, it has gained acceptance among the gaming community as a different approach to the gaming experience. According to www.cnet.com, “It lacks the graphical prowess and rich media features of the Xbox 360 and the PS3, but the Nintendo Wii’s combination of unique motion-sensitive controllers and emphasis on fun game play makes the ultra-affordable console hard to resist.” The seventh generation consoles have much to offer their consumers, and many expectations have been met and surpassed. When deciding which console is right for you, just weigh your options with what kind of experience you want. The seventh generation has arrived, and with it trillions of hours to be spent in a gamer’s paradise.