A Nintendo in your purse?
I understand that A-list bloggers are used to getting all sorts of schwag to review, but I’m far from that, so I was pretty surprised last month to check my inbox and discover that Nintendo was sending me a DS Lite and games to review. It’s part of their campaign to market the DS to women, which also includes a promo where people who rent a high end purse can receive the use of DS at the same time.
I emailed the marketer back to say that I’d give it a try, but that their games would need to knock my socks off to justify the space in my purse. Given that I can already play a number of games on my iPod touch, why would I want to carry something else around? And indeed, none of the games they sent with it were as addictive to me as trism.
There’s no question that if you’re serious about playing games, the DS is still a better machine. For one thing, its battery life far exceeds the iPod’s (which frankly stinks in game playing mode). And it has two screens, and more than one button, which gives you a lot more options for controlling a game. And it’s cheaper, and less breakable, and has a user-replaceable battery. But for having something handy when I’m bored on the metro, or get stuck waiting on line somewhere, the iPod does just fine.
It also didn’t help their case that the selection of programs they sent was largely based on the assumption that women don’t actually want to play video games.* So, they sent a yoga trainer (confusing controls for selecting programs, and no audio directions), a weight loss coach with a pedometer (great concept, clunky implementation), a crossword program (fine except that you had to solve a bunch of easy ones to get to the ones that were interesting), Brain Age 2 (clever), Carnival Games (a hit with my son), and a puzzle solving game (MillionHeir, which was pretty good). And none of these shows off the capacity of the system half as well as the Pokemon game that my son has been busily playing since the minute I handed over the system.**
So, I’m dubious about this marketing push, even as I think they’ve got a pretty good product. I just don’t see a lot of grown ups playing with a DS. Am I missing something? Any of you play with one of these?
*This article quotes someone from Nintendo as saying that half of the DS systems sold last year belong to women. Sorry, but I can only believe that if: a) "women" is defined to mean "female, regardless of age" or b) "belong" is defined to mean "purchased by" regardless of the primary user. I know some women who play computer games,*** but 50 percent just isn’t plausible to me.
** D has been asking for a DS for a long time, and we told him that we wouldn’t buy him one, but he could save up for one. And he’s been dutifully saving his allowance for over a year. So once I tried the system enough to write a fair review, I let him buy it from me for half price. He knows that we still retain the right to put the system in time out if he misbehaves.
***For some interesting discussion on gender differences in online games, see Geeky Mom.