How Nintendo makes the video game industry look good

Don Reisinger thinks Nintendo should be commended for what they do for the video game industry. After all, isn't that the company we cite each time we're mad at Jack Thompson?

For years, people like Jack Thompson have been spewing invective in an attempt to bring the video game industry to its knees. And while he and the rest of his cronies have done all they can to paint the picture that the entire video game industry is rife with sex, drugs and violence, Nintendo has led the way in showing the world that that's not even close to true.

Last week, AJ Pierzynski of the Chicago White Sox was asked why he spent hours during spring training playing with his Nintendo DS. Instead of telling the reporters that he tried to kill 15 men in 10 seconds, he explained that he was playing a vision-training game on the device to improve his ability to see the baseball.

Of course, Pierzynski's use of the DS isn't the only "non-violent" use of video games today and many people have found the DS and Wii to be bastions of fitness, health and fun. And although others are trying to carry the torch with Nintendo, no company in the video game industry has done what the hardware and software manufacturer has been able to do: show the world that there's more to video games than violence and sex.

Just don't tell Jack Thompson that.

Too often, Nintendo is taken to task for being too "kiddie." When a parent tries to decide which console they want to buy for their young children, more often than not, they'll choose a Wii or DS because the library of games is more suitable to children of that age. Granted, there are some titles that may not, but Nintendo has gone out of its way to make sure its games are fun, innovative and especially, non-violent.

And yet, Nintendo is caught between a rock and hard place. There's a certain group of people that look at Nintendo and commend the company for doing what it can to turn the tide of violence and sex in video games. On the other hand, a vocal group tries to condemn the firm for not offering the kind of content it believes most people want.

And while both sides have a point, I don't care either way. The way I see it, if you want games for children, the Wii and DS are your best bet. If you don't, pick up a copy of Rainbow Six Vegas 2 and enjoy yourself. And either way, you can buy a Wii and play some of those mature titles right on the console.

But I digress. Some people don't see Nintendo in that light. To some, Nintendo has been and always will be the last stronghold of games for children. But I think that argument is pure rubbish. Are Nintendo games less violent? Sure. Do they appeal more to the kid in you than the soldier in you? Yep. But are they any less fun to play? Of course not.

Nintendo has been able to do something that no other company in the industry is willing nor capable of -- create compelling gameplay for people of all ages without using sports or violence to do it.

And ironically, it's the hardcore gamers who don't have Nintendo red running through their veins that find the most fault with the company. But if those people took a step back and evaluated what's really going on, they would quickly realize that what Nintendo is doing for the industry goes far beyond their own preference for violent video games or more mature titles.

Unlike any other developer, Nintendo is carrying the torch as a way to refute all of Jack Thompson's claims and show the world that video games are not the safe haven of violence and antipathy, but the realm of eclectic tastes and entertainment, fitness and education for people of all ages.

Claiming violent video games are the root of all evil may be an easy claim for some that only see what they're looking for. But thanks to Nintendo, those that hate video games have few examples at their disposal to show us that the industry really is evil.

And although some may criticize Nintendo for staying true to its principles of fun and innovative gameplay without the gore, I think we should commend it on a job well done. After all, it's first company we cite when we've had enough of Jack Thompson.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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