Wii is watching you

Monday 2 October 2006
Nintendo's Wii console will feature a system called Play History, a permanent record that keeps tabs on what you're playing, when you're playing it and for how long. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata hopes Play History will "stop games being regarded with hostility in the family".

The Play History record cannot be deleted and is designed to "allow parents to discuss with their children how much they are using the console," says Shinichiro Tamaki, of Nintendo's research and development department, during an interview on Nintendo's official website. But the original idea, from Iwata, was far more controversial.

"I came up with a suggestion," Iwata explains, "perhaps a rather outlandish one! What I thought was that if a parent said that their child was only allowed to play games for one hour a day, how about making it so the console actually turns itself off after an hour? Of course, the console would save the game data before it switched off!"

Nintendo's research suggested Iwata's idea was unworkable, despite some people thinking that "without such an extreme solution, mothers would always hate computer games". Eventually, the idea lead to the alternative of a Play History feature.

Whatever your thoughts about the feature - it's effectively just a more sophisticated version of the play time stats you get with many saved game files - Play History shows just how focused Nintendo is in making Wii a console that is bought for the whole family, not just a single gamer. Whether Ninty's ambition will be realised is another question - we'll just have to wait and see.