Nintendo is determined to transform hatred of video games into love for video games. Not easy.
Nintendo's CEO Satoru Iwata recently reminded an audience of Nintendo stockholders that video games have, as recently a 2009, generated more disdain among the Japanese public than any other form of entertainment.
"We should try our best to produce appealing products which keep users excited," Iwata said, "but on the other hand, it is a big problem if such excitement causes family troubles or affects a user's life balance."
He pointed the chart shown here and then added: "I believe that the social acceptance of video games will never improve if we just aim for user absorption without being aware of the potential problems. Considering that our long-term goal is to change people's minds from 'gaming disturbs study' to 'gaming is unexpectedly good', I think the current status is not perfect in several aspects."
Iwata, one of the most powerful people in video games, realises that a lot of the public dislikes video games. They don't know them and they don't like them. He's not alone.
It was just last week that Blizzard's scuttled effort to get people to post on its forums using only their last name was criticised, in part, because the practice of gaming might be held against a gamer. A job interview could be ruined by the revelation that the interviewee is a World of Warcraft gamer, the argument went.
Some argue that societal dislike for games will diminish as gamers get older and non-gaming generations head to their graves. That's not a comprehensive argument. Gaming's problems won't die with the Greatest Generation or the Baby Boomers. Consider that Iwata's comments above were a response to a Nintendo shareholder whose disdain-for-gaming had nothing to do with older generations but with an issue games are sure to encounter for as long as video games are very fun to play.
This was the shareholder's question:
My son is enjoying the competitive games very much. I made a family rule that he is allowed to play games on a few days per week, for a maximum of two hours each day, but it doesn't work well. My wife is getting angry as this situation is hindering his studies. Although this may be just what Nintendo intends, could you please explain Nintendo's recommendations for usage?
Iwata declined to recommend a specific play pattern. He said that Nintendo had considered making the Wii shut off when a parental timer expired and implemented an un-erasable play-time count in the Wii in order to help families with gaming time management problems. He hoped that the play count log would help a family and diminish the chance that games could become a negative aspect of home life.
It's still too easy for people to dislike video game as a past-time, the Nintendo boss is saying. And game companies, he suggests, should try to fix that.