Every Tuesday, Mike Sylvester brings you REVOLUTIONARY, a look at the wide world of Wii possibilities.
Thought of by many as the "Disney of video gaming," Nintendo has crafted themselves an image of family-friendly entertainment. But to certain generations and classes of gamers, the term "family-friendly" is synonymous with "kiddy," and immediately sparks disinterest. But ever since publishing Rare's Killer Instinct, they've been working on broadening the public's perspective. Trying to appeal to the bloodlust of the Mortal Kombat crowd didn't give them any headway, and as generations progressed and they've garnered more "mature-themed" titles, they still haven't been able to shake the "kiddy console" stigma.
Even after snagging the exclusivity to the Resident Evil series for a generation, Nintendo was largely overlooked by the Playstation-bred gamers that were brought up on the series. How much more will it take for Wii to be regarded as a platform that can satisfy the tastes of mature gamers?
We're still waiting on the official lab results, but it's commonly accepted as fact that with advancement in age, the ability to appreciate bright colors diminishes. Or at least, that's the impression you'd get from listening to the ramblings of Mario-haters. In some circles, liking a game with muted tones such as Gears of War precludes enjoying something more vibrant like Kameo. Nevermind the mature themes and violent gameplay of the latter title, which distinguish it from other games that are similarly colorful and cartoony. It's written off as kid's stuff and passed over. This predilection for prejudgment may be what led Rare to drastically change the themes and gameplay of their first Conker game, but kept the vivid style to catch a few people off guard.
Definitely NOT kid's stuff
Why do some people believe the cartoonish settings of a Mario game make the sci-fi worlds in Mass Effect or the fantastic multiverses of Final Fantasy seem real in contrast? A gamer looking for realistic gameplay scenarios that adults are used to living out should logically be attracted to Nintendo exclusives like Trauma Center, Cooking Mama, or the upcoming Disaster: Day of Crisis. Why is it that violence, sex, and profanity are the brightest beacons for attracting people in search of "mature" content?
Regardless of whether your interests involve chainsawing rival drug dealers, turning zombies into swiss cheese, flipping burgers, or swimming alongside dolphins, Nintendo likely has something to offer you. They've worked hard to change consumers' perceptions of them, but it takes fanboys like us to get the message out and convert others.
With a new focus on expanding the market rather than overtaking competitors for existing marketshare, does Nintendo even need to change their image? Leave a comment to tell us how you'd run things if you were heading up Nintendo's marketing departments. I hear they have some openings.