Monday, July 9, 2018

Who's this For?

Looking at comments on the Nintendo Labo in places like Reddit and ResetEra, you'd swear some people hold a deep seated grudge toward cardboard.  Personally, I have nothing against the material.  In fact, I made a fake suit of armor out of it (complete with silver spray paint and duct tape) when I was little, and a toy tank (that I could actually climb inside of) when I was a bit older.  Using cardboard to make peripherals for the Switch seems like a fine idea considering the stuff is biodegradable and, as such, easily disposed of.   The thing that does have me scratching my head though is who might the target audience be here?

The assembly instructions that come build into the game are about as comprehensible as one could hope for, but given the inherent complexity and time consuming nature of the designs (seriously, it's like multi-part origami) I have a hard time picturing many youngsters with enough patience to put together anything beyond the simple green insect thing at the very beginning.  Children, whose age has reached the double-digit mark, are far more likely to make anything from the blue fishing pole to the black piano.  That said, the accompanying mini-games are really too simple to hold their interest for very long.  There's also a learning mode that teens and young adults might find interesting but, again, Nintendo made the rather odd decision to write the expository dialogue at a level that really only feels appropriate for children.  So, after going over all that, I still don't have an answer to my question - who's this for?

It's my understanding that the Labo didn't start off as a piece of edutainment; it just ended up that way.  Super Bunnyhop, of Youtube fame, adroitly pointed out in a video of his that putting together one of the devices in the Labo kit might make for a highly practical exam or test.  I especially think so if it were used in a junior high school (or 5th/6th grade elementary school) industrial arts class.  Unfortunately, the price tag attached to the Labo ensures only the most well funded schools could realistically afford it.  So, again - who's this for? 

The best answer I can come up with is affluent families in which one or both parents have enough free time to build this stuff with their kids who, in turn, may or may not engage with it depending on their age level and ease of access to more entertaining alternatives.  That sounds like a fairly minuscule demographic to me.  Oh well...I'm sure somebody is having loads of fun with it...and for everyone else who bought the thing, at least it's easy to recycle...   

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