I grew up in the 90s, and back then video games were made for kids. Toys were for kids, and video games were just the newest, most exciting toys around.
But as my generation grew up, we never really stopped playing games. As we became adults, the game companies kept making games for us, and games shifted to targeting an older audience. It makes sense that these would be successful since adults have more money to spend on games than kids do. Video games became a form of entertainment just like movies, and they started using serious storylines and graphic violence in the same ways.
While this is great for the adults, I can’t help but feel that the kids are being left behind. The young adults making exciting new things are mostly making them for people like themselves, and very few companies are still focusing on entertainment for children. So now kids play Call of Duty, sign up for Facebook, watch YouTube, and are bombarded with content that really isn’t appropriate for their age.
Nintendo is a shining exception. The Switch is designed to be family-friendly and has many games suitable for young children. I was recently in a shopping mall that was holding an event for kids to try out the new Mario game, and they had a Mario there to greet them and take pictures.
Nintendo’s first steps in the mobile app industry - which is notorious for promoting competition and bad spending habits - includes games like Animal Crossing that have minimal payment mechanics and have only positive interactions between players.
Even Nintendo’s eSports efforts include a focus on kids. Splatoon has held national tournaments exclusive to Elementary School students, to find the best Splatoon-playing kids in the country.
Cynics will say that Nintendo’s strategy is to start making life-long customers from a young age, but I just think it’s nice to see a giant game company that hasn’t forgotten about the children.