Before I continue with my Nintendo butt-kissing… Let me go on record as saying that I’ve already experienced my first Wii scar, many month ago. A bleeding knuckle that never quite healed right, and a broken ceiling fan are all that remain. That’s all I’m going to say about that… for now.
I recently watched another speech from Nintendo’s own Satoru Iwata, who was detailing various financial reports. One thing that he had reiterated in his speech got me thinking. He mentioned how Nintendo continually polls for seeming arbitrary information, like the “acceptance” of video games. He talked about the lack of understanding that a large population of Japanese (and Americans) have on the subject of video games. I definitely got the sense that there were was a group of people who still believed that, “TV rots your brains” and “video games are a gateway to crack cocaine”.
Though I am hopeful that the other big players (Sony and Microsoft) are concerned about this as well, I don’t often hear these sentiments in their speeches. I tend to hear a lot more of the “me too” responses to Nintendo, with things like Microsoft’s Natal and Sony’s Wand/Arc and the sudden appearance of fitness titles on those consoles. I don’t know that I’ve seen an attempt, from the others, to target an audience, other than “We’ve made a pony game and Barbie game… you know.. for girls!”
I get the feeling that Microsoft and Sony are more concerned with stealing Nintendo’s gamers rather than going out an hooking the people who haven’t joined the race yet. Though it may be annoying for us developers (probably as annoying as those commercials that tighten up the graphics on level 3), it may be a necessary nuisance to have the major players start up PSA campaigns for the un-gamer. It might be beneficial to the industry as a whole to stop advertising only in the channels most watched by the 18-25 crowd, and put something on family channel or lifetime or hallmark. I think that it might be good for the industry to do more than Market… We have to Educate as well.
There is a lot to be said for poaching of a competitors clients. After all, poaching existing gamers means not having to explain to them that games can be a good thing, and an enjoyable experience. Poaching gamers may be the easy road, but it also leads to the insestual nature that we are seeing between Sony and Microsoft, who are clawing and scratching their eyes out while Nintendo sits back and pushes out another Pokemon game on their way to the bank.
It’s hard to say who’s right here. Nintendo at least appears to be looking at the broad scope of potential gamers, while the others are pulling from the well. Pulling from the well may sound like a bad thing, but it keeps my generation of gamers happy with content that is familiar, has more depth and fidelity than you average Wii title, and builds upon the assumption that you’ve actually played a game before. I know that expansion could lead to more of the things that I personally don’t care for, but in gaming years, I am probably a dinosaur anyways (7:1 ratio?). We may have to accept that the industry has changed, and so has the audience. I don’t care for fitness games, or waving my hands just to walk, or performing inappropriate jerking motions to charge up my weapon, or Minority Report user interfaces.
I don’t care for a lot of things that are happening to the industry, but it’s what the people want, and the developers are becoming a smaller part of that equation.