Nintendo Entertainment System was the first video game system I played. Back then, my playtime was mostly a save-the-princess affair. Playing Nintendo games granted me a way to do something larger than myself. It allowed me to do good deeds. As I’ve grown older and technology has advanced, mainstays like The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Brothers, and Pokémon counterbalance the more mature titles I play. You know the Mortal Kombats and No More Heroes of the world. While many people decry the company’s family friendly approach to game development, Nintendo’s fans appreciate it for that very reason. Family friendliness balances the industry’s action game-orientation while delivering simplicity and moderating the industry’s excesses (think: the glut of T- and M-rated titles).
First up is my simplicity argument. Life today is more complex than ever. It is more hectic, with more errands, more errands, more school, more everything. Nintendo does a marvelous job at making our hobby uncomplicated. Instead of pursuing a glut of features and beefier hardware with each generation like its competitors, Nintendo strives for matters most: the gaming experience. And that may be why Nintendo is still relevant after 124 years. Competitors just don’t match Nintendo in that arena.
Second, Nintendo brings moderation to the industry. Competitors market themselves as a destination for the ‘core’ gaming demographic. Of course, that is where the money is. But it is hard to find true success in an already overcrowded field. So Nintendo found its niche. The market it carved out helps consumers and promotes a healthy industry. Consumers get to choose from a wider range of video game genres, each with high-quality titles. The industry benefits via market expansion; which means bringing in people who would never touch a Call of Duty game. Thus, developers must diversify their offerings to reflect the greater range of tastes which benefits everyone.
Many people around the world credit Nintendo with saving the industry after the video game crash in 1983. But few discuss Nintendo’s contemporary role as a balancer. It is about time we did. Let’s have that discussion in the comments below.