Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nintendo is the new Disney

My 5-year-old son, who will be 6 in a little over a month, loves Nintendo. And so do his schoolmates and friends.
They play with Nintendo’s Wii video game consoles and DS handhelds and talk about game strategy and characters.
My son, Christopher, can discuss in detail the characters from Nintendo’s Mario universe – their personalities, relationships, strengths and weaknesses. I have to feign interest when he talks at length about the merits of Mario, Luigi, Wario, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, Peach, Bowser, etc.
All of Chris’ friends and young cousins speak the same language of Nintendo. They’re all growing up with Nintendo’s games and characters.
Nintendo has taken the role once served by Disney. Nintendo is now the most significant, mass market, pop culture influencer of young kids today.
Years ago, kids talked about the Mickey Mouse Club and Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. Now they talk about Mario and friends.
With interactive entertainment like video games, kids are immersed in Nintendo more than they ever were in Disney’s cartoons and comic books.
Chris has owned a Nintendo DS dual-screen handheld game device since early March 2008. We bought a used DS from GameStop and a couple of games to keep the then 4-year-old occupied on a long flight. It worked. And he quickly mastered Mario Kart DS and a few other games.
He had wanted a digital camera, so we upgraded to the new Nintendo DSi over the weekend. (Again at GameStop.)
The DSi includes two cameras – one pointed at the user and the other away from the user. He’s been taking lots of pictures in the first three days. He uses the included software tools to edit, morph, draw and put artwork on his photos.
The DS has been a good experience for Chris because it’s gotten him used to using icon-based software tools for operating computers. He's comfortable with technology. It’s also inspired him to learn to read more because he has to follow the on-screen instructions for games like Mario Party DS and Super Mario 64 DS.
My only question for Nintendo is: Why no theme parks?

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