Here’s a letter I sent to Nintendo several months ago:
I’m a Nintendo fan since the NES days and have some ideas I would like to share with you. I know it’s a big pretention but I wouldn’t be at peace with myself if I didn’t do it.
I believe a partnership with Google would be the cheapest and most effective solution for Nintendo online services. Google has all the resources to accommodate Nintendo’s needs for online gaming, not being necessary huge investments of neither part (other than between-platforms software). In exchange, Nintendo’s hardware (home consoles and portables) could bring Google TV out of the box (or via a software update [if that’s possible]) and integrate it, in the case of Wii, with the Wii Channels, since the interfaces are similar.
And more than that, the partnership could go even further integrating other Google services into Nintendo gameplay (E.g.: Google Earth/Maps [endless possibilities here]; Miis linked with Gmail accounts [for exchanging data with other players, for example], or to put your Mii as an e-mail/Orkut avatar; or even use Orkut as a community tool to Animal Crossing [Google would surely like a boost to Orkut – or its next community service - in face of Facebook’s huge success]; besides instant translation chats and game text, photo books of game screenshots etc.)
Finally, like the genius marketing action of linking American Heart Association with Wii, put Nintendo and Google brands together would be good for both companies.
Here’s is a market underexplored and one Nintendo could easily dominate. Imagine have a Wii (or DS) in every U.S. and Japanese (and Brazilian, for that matter) school. I believe videogames to be the most powerful new learning tool but its use is not fully realized (mostly because who develops edutainment have little knowledge in videogames themselves). Nintendo with its unique expertise could make learning fun and expand enormously its market to an ocean with no big sharks at all.** And, since you’re selling software to public and private companies, piracy will be close to none. Add to that that Wii and DS are affordable hardware and beloved by this particular group (students). And most of all, add that you would be contributing to build a better world. I’m Brazilian and here the public school teachers are underprepared, underpaid and students low-motivated, leading to very poor learning across the country. Brazilian government is investing in making Internet accessible to anyone, logically they’ll need to put computers in public schools, so students can use the net (I recently learnt the best solution to ubiquitous internet access here, unfortunately it can be used in US, but maybe it can be applied in Brazil [ I even sent a e-mail to the president, to the Ministerial of Communications and to the Ministerial of Science and Technology with this link in the hopes they change the government strategy for this cheaper and better one]). Anyway, what if instead of PCs, Brazil bought much lower-cost Wiis/DSs with keyboards and mice along with edutainment software with downloadable content [exercises, for example] [oh, and pen drives, so the students can take they info with them]?).
If I was Nintendo’s president, I would form an edutainment division right away. Since I am Brazilian I would create an edutainment division here in Brazil (specifically in Recife – PE, where there’s a growing software development scene with cheap human resources Nintendo could aggregate). Nintendo would help Brazil get expertise in software development, which we desperately need to be a competitive nation, and, in the other hand, this proved interest in Brazil would facilitate negotiations with the government to close the above mentioned Wii/DS-public schools deal. It costs nothing to dream.
Edutainment development should be a lot less expensive and easier than creating a new Zelda or Mario, which makes it even more profitable. Mathematics, Physics and Biology would be logical start points since they are more “interactive” sciences. I believe, though, that, to this strategy work perfectly, the Googled-Wii or DS would be essential.”
*Dear Google, if you get to read this and in case Nintendo doesn’t want to settle a partnership with you, I do want and have all figured out. I’ll contact you when the engines start to move (or maybe, if you want to speed things up, you may contact me).
**Edutainment may not be an ocean that bluer anymore, due to Change the Equation movement, which I believe is a great strategy to reach students and make learning all the more interesting. I believe the problem with learning is not what is taught (which is rather interesting), but the methodology. Passive learning must be substituted by interactive/creative learning. I believe a great motivator when creating an edutainment videogame would be a Pokémon, Achievements approach, in other words, the player/student should receive a prize/reward/score/unlockable for each task completed. Gotta catch’em all. Add to this an online ranking and, who knows, multiplayer online challenges “like who solves it faster wins” and you got students glued to learning. Another interesting feature would be to treat every new content learnt as a level up, so you could challenge players from your same level and brag about having Math level 200. I believe the student avatar should be highly customizable not only in facial aspects, but in accessories (which could be earned by completing lessons or traded with other users). Maybe all the experience could be held together in a main hub like a MMO city. But this is too big for the beginning.
Finally, and most important of all, this technology should be accessible/given to all world’s nations, not only US. After all, “we are the world, we are the children…”