One of Nintendo's core strategies with the Wii and DS has been to appeal to a wide audience through accessible gameplay, intuitive hardware and family-friendly intellectual properties.
But company president and CEO Satoru Iwata said if the company wants to further expand, it needs to help address a fundamental problem with the video game industry: a lack of social acceptance.
"Of course, we should try our best to produce appealing products which keep users excited, but on the other hand, it is a big problem if such excitement causes family troubles or affects a user's life balance," he said in a Q&A session
during a shareholders meeting last week.
"I believe that the social acceptance of video games will never improve if we just aim for user absorption without being aware of the potential problems," he added.
Nintendo conducted a survey last year in Tokyo about the social acceptance of video games. Eighteen percent of respondents said they "like [games] very much" -- TV and movies had 46 percent and 33 percent of respondents reacting positively. It's one of Nintendo's long-term goals to improve social acceptance, Iwata said.
Iwata added that Nintendo once "seriously considered" implementing a hardware function that would "force games to stop mandatorily." The function would allow parents to set hard-line restrictions on their kids' gaming time.
"However, we also considered how the players would feel if the game suddenly stopped during an exciting part," Iwata said. Instead, the Nintendo Wii has a time log that parents can review that shows how long games were played.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 have various parental controls -- the Xbox 360 has a "Family Timer" feature that lets parents set the amount of time kids can use the console.
Iwata said that Nintendo is exploring an option for the 3DS that gives parents control over playing time. "Whether it will be similar to the one for Wii or we may add something more has not been decided," he said.
"Nintendo is seriously considering such measures -- probably the most earnestly in this industry," said Iwata. "Our arguments are so serious that people might be surprised if they were aware that a video game company like Nintendo is having such arguments internally. We believe that we will never be able to improve the social acceptance of video games without careful consideration of this challenge."