Posted by: seanmalstrom | November 21, 2014

Email: Beacon of hope for Miyamoto

Hey Master Malstrom,

You know, Miyamoto says good stuff sometimes. This one, for example, gives me hope. Next thing you know they are launching Zelda with trains. I just wish he’d make the games he describes right there.
Oh, and creativity. So important. Of course.
Regards,
A.Reader

 

Judge Nintendo based on the products they make, not the statements they make. I didn’t write so much about Blue Ocean Strategy and disruption because Nintendo said it. I did so because of the DS. The DS was prologue to the Wii. And I think the 3DS was a prologue to the Wii U.

There is something I do love about AAA or ‘Game Industry’ or whatever you want to call them games. Do you want to hazard a guess, reader? Do so now. We will patiently wait.

With other entertainment, what do they do to make you not feel like a loser? (Think of the Academy Awards when everyone is all dressed up in suits and flowing gowns. They SEEM sophisticated but it is only over make-believe works.) Their marketing is not designed so much to bring attention to the product but to make you feel you are not the only one who likes it. How to explain? Imagine there is a TV show you like. You drive down the highway. Then you see a billboard advertising that TV show. You smile and feel good as it feels right and proper that the TV show is on that billboard. The billboard becomes a reinforcing agent to the present user.

Try another example. Use Star Trek. You guys like seeing Star Trek pop up in other areas… especially references. Hell, early video games are FULL of them. Lord of the Rings too. You feel like you are not alone. Perhaps that is a big reason why gaming message forums are so popular.

Back in Generation 2 (Atari Era), no one felt alone playing video games. Video games were becoming pop-culture then. There is the Pac-Man song…

There were movies like Tron.

Above: Hey, it’s a young Captain Sheridan!

 

Did we have anything comparable in the Third Generation? We did.

Above: God, the above is soooo awesome!

As the person who designed Nintendo Power said (forgot her name) that Nintendo Power was a ‘support structure’. This is what seems like everyone is missing. Everyone looks at Nintendo Power as some effective marketing campaign… and it was to some extent… but mostly it was a support structure. It supported the people playing the game (you played the games better with it), and made people who played the games feel cool. Nintendo Power even had a section where they interview celebrities in how they played Nintendo. The purpose of that was to say, “See? Even celebrities play Nintendo. You are so cool!”

Other console companies had their own support structures. PlayStation had PlayStation magazine and the likes. As a PC gamer, my favorite was the heyday of PC Gamer magazine with its nice, thick, glossy pages and awesome demo CD. The point was not about ‘game journalism’ or ‘marketing’ but being a support structure for gaming.

In many ways, the purpose of game journalists is to provide a support structure for gaming. When that support structure becomes the opposite, you get something like Gamergate. Gamers need for support seems to explain all the message forums, all the social interaction with many gamers. Gamers need this support because society will not give it and wives and girlfriends will not give it. This isn’t like Football where the state government raises taxes to build giant stadiums and where many companies drool over making ads for big games. Companies can’t make ads into gaming. Gaming has no support structure. We must provide it.

What AAA gaming effectively does is create a massive marketing maelstrom where the marketing becomes so thick, people believe everyone else wants the game too! Gamers willingly drink the hype because hype is another word for support. Gamers need a support structure. Of course, the marketing blitz cannot last forever so when it vanishes, the illusion of a support structure vanishes as well and the game dies.

It cannot be understated how important a support structure is for gaming. I think, in large part, why Blizzard games have such a long lifespan is because of the support structure Blizzard provides and that their players reciprocate in kind.

That is one telling thing about the Wii phenomenon when Wii was sold out for years in the US. It wasn’t so much that the Wii was ‘good’ or that everyone liked to play it (it was more than that). Expanding the audience, like an AAA marketing blitz, accidentally creates the illusion of a support structure. (Wii is sold out for years… therefore… everyone supports it). And why did the Wii die? It was because people saw Nintendo not supporting it so they responded in kind.

The more I think about it, MMOs are a type of intricate support structure. Everyone has their role and support the ‘group’. It also explains why MMOs can attract the losers of life. Maybe we placed the cart before the horse. It wasn’t the game that turned them into a loser, they were losers who deeply needed support so they were attracted to this type of ‘virtual’ support system.

Anyway, it is something to think about. If Nintendo started to create support structures (because they badly need them), I suspect a very serious turn will occur commercially.

PS- Miyamoto is dead on correct in his statements.


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