I personally have zero experience with all things Nintendo. My parents very successfully managed to shelter me from the world of video games. I did not know what an Atari or Nintendo was until high school so everything in Kline’s article, Electric Frontiers, is completely new to me. My first reaction to the article is that I was very impressed by Nintendo’s business and marketing strategy and success. It is quite amazing what they had done. They began exploring the “play value” and had children testing thousands of games a week and completing evaluations based on quality of graphics, sounds, initial feel, play control, concept/story, excitement/thrills, lasting interest and challenge, and overall engagement. These evaluations resulted in great success for the company. They also established phone lines for game counseling where in turn they would gather further consumer data. Investigating “play value” and the use of game counseling helped Nintendo achieve the proper flow to keep their consumers engaged.

I was also impressed by how they took a risk to buy mass quantities of microchips so that they game consoles could be reasonably priced. They overcame Atari’s earlier problem of lack of memory. The microchips allowed them to improve the game quality and livability. Also, to link back to our discussion last class on narrative, the article explained the origins of Mario, which is one of Nintendo’s platform games. Mario is a good example of how narrative can accentuate a game, but it is not necessary. I played Mario Brothers 3 without any knowledge of the story and it was fine and dandy. Now that I know the history of Mario throughout the various games, it doesn’t really change how I play the game, its just cool to know.

Finally, I wanted to take a look at Montfort’s five levels: platform, game code, game form, interface, and reception and operation. I found it very interesting how Nintendo controlled many of these elements of games. They had a monopoly over the platform after they won the law suit against Atari. They had very strict rules about what could be in the game code and how the game could shape itself. It reminds me of Apple’s strict rules for apps in the app store. Nintendo had a lot of control over the gaming industry and I am impressed by the way they influenced all five of Montfort’s levels.

About Sonia

My name is Sonia. I am a psychology major. I like cats and tea cup pigs.
This entry was posted in First Readers. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Impressed

  1. You make a good point about Nintendo maintaining tight control over their games; I had never thought about using Montfort’s levels as a way to understand the different ways a corporation can exert influence over its products. While earlier companies like Atari had control over the platform, they did not control the game code—or at least not the code produced by outside companies. Where Nintendo really excelled, though, was its domination of the higher levels; Nintendo even influenced the reception of the games through its phone hotlines and fan magazines.

  2. Colin says:

    One thing that struck me is the way Nintendo used heavy marketing techniques that had never been seen before in the video game world to sell their products. I agree that the control they exerted over their hardware and software helped to enable their success, and the phone help lines and focus on play were strokes of genius yet their marketing was crucial as well. The article points to their “phenomenal marketing” as a main player in their business success. This is primarily because they made the choice to sell to the children rather then the parents.

    One thing we talked about in class is how the marketing techniques relied on a successful “first impression”. If the player enjoyed the first 5 minutes of a game whether at a friends house or in some sort of demo mode, then he/she would be much more likely to want the game and keep buying other similar games. And if this player was a child, then this desire turned into “pestering power” where he/she would beg his/her parents until the game was purchased.

    This focus helped the game designers to find the bridge between skeptical parent purchasers, and child gamers. The focus on a story was also effective in selling games, especially for series’s of games such as Zelda or Mario. If a player had already played a Mario or Zelda game the that player was much more likely to purchase a sequel version with the same characters. Thus a franchise with narrative was a powerful business strategy.

  3. ncoovern says:

    Having been one of those adopted Nintendo kids, Nintendo was all I had ever known. I blame my lack of knowing what Atari was because of the differences in marketing between Atari and Nintendo. As mentioned, Nintendo controlled 80% of the market all the while creating Mario, argueably the equivalent of Disney’s Mickey. Mario is the globally recognizable character that put a face to Nintendo. Even the music to Super Mario Bros is readily recognized amongst most Americans. Nintendo’s ability to make their products accessible to a larger share of the consumer market than their previous competitors didn’t hurt either. I remember when I was younger my parents were hesitant to buy the N64, but they did get me the Gameboy before they finally submitted to “pestering power” because it was less expensive. Even if I wasn’t playing the main console, I still had access to games via my handy portable game device, and wasn’t left out because of the pricepoint. I think it’s amazing that you didn’t see any other portable game devices up to par with the Gameboy for years. Only recently has the PSP come out, any other competition I am unaware of. 

    I thought another part of Nintendo’s company model that really gave them an edge was the idea of their games having “livability”. I definitely prefer games such as Zelda or Mario to Pong or Space Invaders. I do also agree that having a character to vest your interests in allows for extended interest for the player. I don’t want my Mario to die; he has an upset face with his hands flailing about when he does. The emotions on the characters in the game make a difference in how interested I am. You don’t want to kill your character because that would just be wrong whereas if you lose Tetris by filling the blocks to the top of the screen you’re not doing anyone any harm. You put yourself into the game more than if you were a block.

Comments are closed.