By sopachuco13 0 Comments
Nintendo has been in the news a lot lately. Much of the internet would have us believe that they have been in the news for their lemming like dash towards the cliff of obscurity. Of course these kinds of headlines catch our attention and provide very "clickable" for the sites that publish many of these stories. But, when one reads through the digital garbage piles and starts to look at the non-traditional articles that are being written about Nintendo we see that Nintendo is a company that is daring to change the way that we think about video games: Yes! While continuing to make the same games over-and-over.
Laura Hudson of Wired.com put together an article today that shows how Nintendo is broadening their audience and the development team behind Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
By including more female developers on the team; half to be exact. Aya Kyogoku, one of the directors on the newest Animal Crossing, was completely surprised when she found out how much the dynamics change when you have more female input into projects. Here is what she was quoted saying in the Wired article;
Having worked on this team where there were almost equal numbers of men and women made me realize that [diversity] can open you up to hearing a greater variety of ideas and sharing a greater diversity of ideas. Only after having working on a project like this, with a team like this one, was I able to realize this.
We can deduce from that last sentence that this kind of inclusive culture wasn't the norm for Ms. Kyogoku.
Now, of course, the stereotype is that Japanese society and, as a microcosm, the video game industry in Japan is very sexist. That is true. But, it is also no less true of American, Canadian, Argentinean, British, Chinese, Irish, or Iranian developers. What makes this old Japanese company different is that they are trying to get the message out that they are taking steps to make the industry more inclusive. The Wii and DS showed us that Nintendo wants to broaden their audience. We see that Nintendo from their GDC talk that Nintendo also wants to broaden the traditional concept of who works on games. Yet, anybody who follows the video game industry knows that this doesn't matter to the fairweather Nintendo fans that write about games on the internet.
The video game blogosphere that support and contribute to sites around the internet cannot see the minutiae of Nintendo's actions. When Nintendo announced their DS, they scoffed at the inane puppy petting simulator called Nintendogs. But, they were quiet when millions around the world purchased the game and system in droves. The constant commenters bitched and moaned about the Wii when it debuted; the name, the controller, the lack of Mature titles, etc. (Which they never bought when they did release; e.g. Madworld, House of the Dead: Overkill, and No More Heroes to name a few.) They continued to bitch about it for the next two years when they couldn't find it in any store because their granny was playing it at the nursing home. And these are the people who have created the most recent brouhaha concerning Nintendo's most recent financial problems.
It would be wrong if I tried to say that Nintendo is enjoying as much success now as it has in the past. But no company is! We are living in a different economy.
The biggest problem for Nintendo right now isn't a monetary problem; it's a PR problem. They are fighting against the image that the internet is giving Nintendo. They are fighting against young white men from Western countries who are dominating the discussion around the viability of Nintendo's decisions: past, present, and future. The audience that Nintendo is courting isn't the WASPs who post on IGN or Gamespot; they are courting grannys, girls, and people who don't go to IGN or Neo-gaf everyday. If you are one of those people who say "When is Nintendo going to make a Call of Duty style game?" or "When is Nintendo going to have GTA?" then you have missed the point of every decision that Nintendo has made in the last 10 years. You are not the target audience anymore! You are not the majority of the market share anymore!
Nintendo is doing the best thing for them right now. They are trying to take back the microphone. Mr. Iwata is speaking directly to the audience through their Nintendo Direct videos. They hit back at the naysayers after the last financial call by giving away a free copy of Pokemon with the purchase of a new 3DS and a first-party Nintendo game. Nintendo is doing what the video game enthusiast audience is not doing; it is changing.
I really hope that Nintendo can help change the conversation; change the players, change the topic, and change the assumption that the Western market has colonized the video game market.