Friday, March 09, 2007

GDC: The Nintendo Wifeometer

Thanks again, Alice!

Excepted from Miyomoto's keynote speech at the GDC.
Maybe you’ve heard of the first one, maybe too much about it. The Expanded
Audience. It’s taken forward our corporate vision of marketing to everyone:
5-95. I’d like to talk about a personal experience of [mine]: I have a personal
way of determining if a product will be succeed with the intended audience, I
call it the wifeometer.


This wifeometer measures one variable: the interest level of my own wife.
Maybe some of you can remember when you played Pac-Man, or a game like Mario.
And maybe you think that these were important moments in your lives. They were
not important moments for my wife. But then Tetris came out. The problem was
that, when I thought my wife would be interested in this game, she was not, but
then when my daughter started playing Ocarina of Time at home, there was a
little change. My wife had gone from complete disinterest to a background
observer. She watched my daughter play. I thought, oh maybe there is

Nintendo's vision and Miyamoto's comical assessment of that vision in his own home shares a parallel success model with the current runaway success of Blizzard's World of Warcraft. I do not believe that my wifeometer would have measured Everquest as a success, just as Vanguard would not have taken root in my home. However, Abryn found a comfort and an interest in Azeroth. Create accessibility in games and variety beyond the FPS gore craze and the industry opens doors to new demographic expansions that are ripe for marketing.

In Synthetic Worlds, Edward Castronova shows only 7.8% of Everquest players from his sampling are female. This does not strike me as a surprising statistic, though I would hypothesize that a far greater percentage would reflect the current residents of World of Warcraft. This demographic shift can be attributed directly to the foundations build by the vision of Miyamoto and Nintendo in expanding the playing field, so to speak. It was then carried forward by Blizzard and has been adopted by every smart design team since.

Thanks, Miyamoto for everything you have done for our industry and your passion will be remembered.

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