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.