When it comes to attracting as many people as possible to gaming, it's hard to argue that anyone has done more than Nintendo in recent years. The Wii is as familiar to old ladies as it is to young boys. Yet despite appealing to all family members (even pets), Nintendo president Satoru Iwata believes that more can be done to grow its audience. How? By fitting all future Nintendo consoles with mind-control technology.
Above: Old ladies like Wii
That thing about mind-control isn't true. The real answer is that Iwata wants to get more adult-type people playing Nintendo by making experiences that are more intellectually engaging. Or, at least, that's how I'm interpreting it. To be honest, this is all based on a pretty cryptic answer Iwata gave at a shareholder meeting and it's tricky to decipher. Anyway, one cheeky shareholder had the audacity to suggest that Nintendo should make software that adults could enjoy more.
(That same shareholder also asked Mr Iwata 'is it possible to run a business with the mysteries of the universe as a theme?' Which makes me think that random drug checks should be carried out at these shareholder meetings.)
This is Iwata's response to the bit about more adult stuff:
"There are two aspects of the suggestion "there should be software which adults can enjoy further" that I would like to touch on. One is that even though such software titles already exist, we have failed to make them widely known. And second, because games were originally entertainment mainly enjoyed by children or young men, even though we have been working hard to expand the age range and offer entertainment which can be enjoyed by a wide range of people, we still have more work to do.
"If I understand your request correctly, you want Nintendo to develop games which fulfil people's intellectual curiosity by combining culture and entertainment in a clever way, so I would like to consider it as a future challenge for us."
Above: This is what Satoru Iwata looks like. Because it is Satoru Iwata
What's he talking about? No one can be sure for certain. Probably not even Mr Iwata. And definitely not me. He could just be hinting at more Brain Training. But for the purposes of this article, let's suppose that he's mulling over the possibility of Nintendo embracing a philosophy that would see the Mario fun factory create games that were more intellectually fulfilling for the player. So, hypothetically speaking, would such a prospect be exciting?
The way I see it, I'm quite happy with the majority of Nintendo's creative output. When it actually gets around to it, Nintendo produces some of the most engaging games out there. It doesn't matter if you consider yourself an intellectual or not - if you appreciate games, Nintendo can do things that will make you happy. I don't know about anyone else, but I didn't come away from Super Mario Galaxy 2 thinking 'it was good, but it could have been a little more intellectually stimulating'. I definitely didn't do that. But then I am only a few rungs above Forrest Gump on the Ladder of Intellect.
Above: Not intellectual. But very good all the same
Undeniably there is an absolute lack of thought-provoking narrative in Nintendo games. Or very much narrative at all really. Perhaps it would be interesting to see Nintendo tackle a proper, challenging story for once. But that would seem very un-Nintendo to me - its games are always satisfying without the need to weigh players down with story.
And, of course, Nintendo games *look* like they're for kids, which has always been a bit of a problem for some folks. But presumably these are the same people that miss out on Pixar and Studio Ghibli movies because they're just cartoons and obviously not intended for an adult audience. Silly people.
How about you - do you think it's time Nintendo grew up a bit? Would you like Nintendo's next intellectual property to actually be, like, intellectual (whatever that even means)? Also, if you fancy having a crack at reinterpreting the Iwata quote or discussing the possibility of running a business with the mysteries of the universe as a theme, please feel free.
Thanks Siliconera for spotting the quote.
July 11, 2011