Nintendo Keeps Trying To Be My Mum. It's Weird, But Maybe More Developers Should Try It, Too.

It's 4am. I'm lying down in bed, barely holding up my 3DS.

By that point, I've been playing Fire Emblem: Awakening all night — long enough that I wouldn't blame anyone for wondering if I'm sharp enough to keep pretending I'm still a competent tactician. But, I don't care. The game has me wired; it's that good. And yet it's one of those situations where I know that if I put it down, I'd fall asleep just fine.

I don't really have the intention of doing that though. Instead I opt to visit the game's barracks — where you can eavesdrop on your army. The top screen shows you who is in the barracks. The bottom screen typically shows you idle small-talk from a random character.

Most of the time, I don't even notice the bottom screen. That night, I do.

"What are you still doing up, Alois?"

...woah, what? Why did that character say to me? I wasn't shocked at the time, not exactly, but the fact it seems to know I'm playing at an odd hour definitely made me self-conscious. Enough that I do actually go to sleep right then and there, though the day night, just the same, I find myself playing Fire Emblem well into the night.

And again, I notice that the characters respond to that.

"Hello, Alois. I was just preparing for a graceful night's sleep."

Okay, fine. Sleep. And then the next morning:

"Good morning, Alois."

Definitely responding in relation to time, right? Just to check, I changed the 3DS's clock and kept going in and out of the barracks. Sure enough, different quips about how late it was every time:

"Alois, I'm glad you're on patrol, but go ahead and rest."

"Alois, it's late. No more snacking until tomorrow."

"Alois, it's getting late. Are you patrolling the camp?"

Geez, mum. I mean, err, Nintendo.

Of course, this isn't so out of character for Nintendo — they produce games that happily remind you to take breaks every so often. I've also seen reminders on games that require motion controls, like on the Kinect. In fact, the first time I seriously played a game on the Kinect, it told me to take a break and I ignored it and kept playing for hours.

The next day? I was a little store. Guess I should have listened, but most of the time I see the reminders to be healthy and conscientious as annoyances. The type of stuff that a parent would chide you about before you scream at them and tell them to get out of your room, GOD.

Now, I'm an adult. I can make choices for myself. Sometimes, they're not the best ones — see aforementioned tendency to game well into the night. And yet there is something about this industry — the way we tout the addictiveness of a game as a feature, as a virtue, as something good...that stuff makes me profoundly uncomfortable.

It makes me uncomfortable and I can't help but wonder if developers shouldn't be more conscientious about what they make. Now, I'm not saying I like being told what to do, or that I can't be trusted to make my own choices.

But you gotta wonder just how much responsibility a developer that explicitly intends to make games with "addicting gameplay" should take in ensuring or at least reminding players to be responsible, no?

Image Credit: Shutterstock


    I do hate our Nintendo tries to be Mum, but how they did it in FE actually sounds like a cool feature. I wonder if they would say anything on your birthday?

      That's a MUCH better way to implement it than their mario games. Drives me nuts. It's just an annoying pop up.

    nice back mum! :D

      So I'm not the only one thinking she works out? #boxgap


        Great ITC for a woman that has "given birth".

    Other games have done this too. I think it was Dungeon Keeper (can't remember which one?) had a similar line.

      Yep. I remember that too now that you mention it. It was in DK 1 not sure about the subsequent ones. Made me laugh so hard the first time I heard it...I was like "WTF??? am I hearing things?"

    Used to hate this in the original brain training DS game, specifically because it' was so condescending and I played the game while working night shift, it's 2 am, I have 20 minutes, I really don't want to be reminded that other 'more normal' people are sleeping right now. In general though I don't like it, I don't know whether there' some legal reason to include such suggestions or whether Nintendo just strongly adhere to that collectivist Japanese culture (my girlfriend has completely cracked it with Ni No Kuni and the emotional communism :D) but frankly it's not their business, in either sense of the word, to tell people how to behave or what to do with their property. It's not really annoying enough to worry about, but in principle... bleh.

    Anyone vaguely reminded of MGS 4's loading screens? Messages akin to "you've been playing for over two hours. Be sure to take a fifteen minute break."

    It even dished out tips on how to be a considerate smoker, such as "if you are going to smoke, be sure to use an ashtray." Or "when smoking, be aware of those around you." lol.

    nice ass milfy...

    Hopefully we get a message for region locking and taking so long to get fire emblem here

    “What are you still doing up,PATRICIA"

    Fixed :)

    "The next day? I was a little store. "

    Video Games confirmed for turning our youths minds into retail outlets.

    In Asian countries, it's usually a requirement to have a break warning on your game, especially if it's an MMO because, as most people have probably seen from the articles, there's a big problem of people playing games for long amounts of time to the detriment of their health. It's also why some build in a diminishing rewards mechanic that reduces the XP and gold you get from killing things. Once you take a break, it refills over time.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now