A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Play Nintendo is chock-full of kids' favorite Nintendo characters but leans toward the shallow marketing-vehicle side. Kids who regularly play Super Smash Bros. Wii U or Mario Kart 8 will enjoy being experts at informational quizzes and learning gameplay tips. Kids under 10 will feel most comfortable with the overall presentation, but one of the featured games is rated for age 10 and over. Some of the messages on the site contain implicit and explicit gender stereotyping, such as men always needing to save princesses. Adults can unveil some interesting ways to support their gaming progeny in the Parents section. Games shown on the site are rated by the ESRB, but for some reason the site doesn't get the ESRB seal that shows compliance with COPPA.
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What's it about?
PLAY NINTENDO is a page on the Nintendo main website that features Nintendo products through short character profiles, gamer quizzes, printable downloads, tutorial and gameplay-fragment videos, and concentration-style matching games. Kids select from rotating panel-based images to get at polls about Toadette's pigtails, image galleries from Miiverse user uploads, and embedded videos on mushroom shortcuts for Mario Kart. A goofy sense of humor and fun are sprinkled throughout the offerings. There's also a section for parents that provides tips and information to adults about gaming.
Is it any good?
Although Nintendo has tons of games for its Wii and DS platforms, the Play Nintendo sub-site emphasizes its most popular and accomplished offerings such as Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8, with other games such as The Legend of Zelda, Captain Toad, and Animal Crossing thrown in for good measure. New amiibo action figures that interact with the games also are prominent. State-of-the-art navigation, super bright and appealing visuals, and a panel-style layout make moving around easy, but many elements, such as "Five tips for becoming a Pokemon artist" or the "Bragg Report," are actually thinly disguised promotions. Others are more satisfying, such as the multiepisode tutorial videos "Super Smash Bros 101" and "How to Win at Super Smash Bros" that come complete with clear demonstrations on how to perfect moves such as rolling, dodging, and using shields.
Some elements are entertaining or even educational; the section for parents goes over topics such as the positive benefits of gaming and balancing screen time with playtime. For the most part, however, some elements are a tad boring by Nintendo standards. For example, a Mario Kart Party Starter never finishes loading. Product announcements can be out of date, such as the one for two Pokemon-based advance demos that have already been released. The Stargazer game was interesting although not what you would expect from Nintendo: slow and subtle. Quizzes, polls, activities, and concentration-style matching games are only mildly interactive, lacking what kids normally expect from Nintendo: arcade-style fun. A few demo games would be a welcome addition to bring a bit more oomph to the offerings. Overall, Play Nintendo highlights a lot of amusing content, but its heavy emphasis on showy marketing may keep some parents and kids away.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about marketing products to kids. Do the slick videos, games, and character-driven Web pages make you more interested in buying these products? Can you see how some people might feel like buying more products if they like specific game characters or ads from those franchises?
Talk about screen time and limits. How much time should you spend in front of the TV gaming? Do you try to balance your gameplay with being active for the same amount of time?
Discuss gender stereotyping in games. Why do you think that games constantly set up the premise that princesses need to be saved by male characters? Can you think of any games where female characters save men?
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