Saturday, April 4, 2009

Girls Want to Play Too

Nien is always telling me stories about his "work husband" Larry. Most recently, Larry has been griping because his 8 year-old daughter has been begging him for a Nintendo DS. It seems all of her friends have one and she wants one too. It's amazing how while the "bells and whistles" game companies, Xbox and Playstation, have been scratching their heads about reaching a female audience, Nintendo has quietly cornered the market with less advanced, more casual and interactive offerings like their hand-held gaming system, the DS and their Wii console.

If Larry decides to be a cool dad and buy it for her, he could really score some major brownie points if he hooks her up with the latest version, the DSi, which hits shelves tomorrow. With even more interactivity like dual cameras that can distort images, audio recorders that let you change the backing tracks to your games, downloadable games, mp3 storage and the ability to upload content to facebook, this thing clearly doesn't want its users to be able to put it down. I guess if I had one of these things when I was a kid it would have been a preview of my current iPhone addiction.

Though I never bought my own, I do occasionally steal Nien's DS Lite to obsessively play countless games of sudoku. I like the simplicity of it and also appreciate that it isn't trying to be anything more than it is. However, that unit is a totally different animal than this new version, and it is nice that buyers will still have a choice between the two.

I also applaud Nintendo every time I see one of their commercials featuring well-known female celebrities playing with the DS. They've featured Lisa Kudrow, Liv Tyler, Nicole Kidman and here is one with Carrie Underwood, who I personally think is a better choice to reach out to the younger audience, though I love them for trying to pitch to my generation as well.

So will DS continue their quiet, yet aggressive campaign to take down the big boys by stealing market share from Apple as well? I don't know too many 8 year-olds who have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, but then again, I don't know any 8 year-old period, so I clearly don't have the answer to this one.