It’s Not Just For Teenage Boys, Anymore…

Digital video games – especially MMOs – have been traditionally the domain of young men between the ages of 12 and 25. Shigeru Miyamoto, genius behind Nintendo, is hoping to change all that with the latest version of the Wii (pronounced “wee”).

Nintendo still does exceptionally well, but the competition in the games industry has become brutal in recent years, leaving the GameCube in third place behind the PS2 and the X-Box.  In a bold move worthy of his samurai ancestors, Shigeru plans to recapture that first-place spot by developing a gaming system for a most unlikely demographic – girls and adults. And when we say “adult,” we’re talking about people in their 40’s and 50’s – and beyond.

It will be a hard sell; gamers tend to suffer being stigmatized by non-gamers as being less intelligent, less ambitious, more prone to violence, juvenile, etc.  While this stereotype may be unjustified, it is pervasive – and tends to cause  adults to shy away from gaming. The other problem is that older adults have a tendency to be technophobic, and may be intimidated by new technology.

Miyamoto’s new controller looks more like a TV remote than a game controller. For all its humble appearance, however, it promises features that will have gamers of all ages chomping at the bit; with a built-in laser-pointer and motion sensor, it will allow finer control over game figures than ever before. Instead of entering keystrokes or pushing on a joystick, the player will actually act out the moves on the screen, almost as if s/he were totally in that virtual world.

The other part of Miyamoto’s formula is to come up with game titles aimed at the older demographic. They have already succeeded with Brain Age, a set of electronic puzzles designed as “mental calisthenics” for older brains. In the past, Nintendo has even attracted girls to gaming with titles like Nintendog, in which the object is to successfully raise and train a dog from puppyhood, and Animal Crossing, a virtual ‘toon town where one can garden, go fishing and design custom t-shirts.

The Wii is scheduled for release later this year.

Digital video games – especially MMOs – have been traditionally the domain of young men between the ages of 12 and 25. Shigeru Miyamoto, genius behind Nintendo, is hoping to change all that with the latest version of the Wii (pronounced “wee”).

Nintendo still does exceptionally well, but the competition in the games industry has become brutal in recent years, leaving the GameCube in third place behind the PS2 and the X-Box.  In a bold move worthy of his samurai ancestors, Shigeru plans to recapture that first-place spot by developing a gaming system for a most unlikely demographic – girls and adults. And when we say “adult,” we’re talking about people in their 40’s and 50’s – and beyond.

It will be a hard sell; gamers tend to suffer being stigmatized by non-gamers as being less intelligent, less ambitious, more prone to violence, juvenile, etc.  While this stereotype may be unjustified, it is pervasive – and tends to cause  adults to shy away from gaming. The other problem is that older adults have a tendency to be technophobic, and may be intimidated by new technology.

Miyamoto’s new controller looks more like a TV remote than a game controller. For all its humble appearance, however, it promises features that will have gamers of all ages chomping at the bit; with a built-in laser-pointer and motion sensor, it will allow finer control over game figures than ever before. Instead of entering keystrokes or pushing on a joystick, the player will actually act out the moves on the screen, almost as if s/he were totally in that virtual world.

The other part of Miyamoto’s formula is to come up with game titles aimed at the older demographic. They have already succeeded with Brain Age, a set of electronic puzzles designed as “mental calisthenics” for older brains. In the past, Nintendo has even attracted girls to gaming with titles like Nintendog, in which the object is to successfully raise and train a dog from puppyhood, and Animal Crossing, a virtual ‘toon town where one can garden, go fishing and design custom t-shirts.

The Wii is scheduled for release later this year.

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