“Brain Age” is here, and yes it’s a video game, but it’s not aiming for what would normally be considered the mass market of boys 18-30 or “gamers”, it’s going for the “massive market” of people who want to “train their brain”. With tag lines like:
For decades Nintendo has been exercising your thumbs. Now they’re going to exercise your mind.
Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day
Nintendo is essentially turning market perception on it’s head, positioning the video game as positive “mental exercise”, as opposed to the common perception of it being a pointless, mind numbing activity. Not only does the game act as a diagnostic tool, by testing your “brain age”, but as a training tool to help lower your brain age, the idea being that a younger brain age is better for your mental health.
As was mentioned in the excellent escapist article the gaming community treated the Nintendo DS (dual screen with a stylus) as a bit of a joke, the graphics were sub par to competing systems, and the interface was kind of clunky and the two screens…. well it didn’t fit the handheld gaming mold. But with a game like Brain Age suddenly the Nintendo DS could become a household name with baby boomers that might not have even heard of Nintendo before. Talk about Word of Mouth, if it starts to gain traction in the 50+ market as a way to stave off something as awful as alzeimers people like me are going to be buying Nintendo DS’s for my parents.
(I’m not super keen on the “do you remember what you had for dinner 2 nights ago” line on their Web site, for me it just smacks of the “i’ve fallen and I can’t get up” approach to marketing, but that’s just my gut feeling.)
In a flyer I read today about Brain Age, mention was made of a game called “Big Brain Academy” which could be aimed at the parents of young children (originally called Brain Flex I think, but the addition of the word “academy” sure aims to create position this tool as making you or your kids “smarter”). Another switch, parents trying to get their kids to play more video games.
Update: If anyone thinks this is hyperbole take a look at the top-ten selling video games in Japan on “any” system:
The ten bestselling games in Japan for the week ending April 16:
- Brain Age 2 (Kahashima Ryuuta Kyouju Kanshuu: Motto Nouo Kitaeru Otona DS) [DS]
- Brain Age: Train your Brain in Minutes a Day (Kahashima Ryuuta Kyouju no Nouo Kitaeru Otona DS Training) [DS]
- Animal Crossing: Wild World [DS]
- Legend of Starfy 4 [DS]
- Guilty Gear XX Slash [PS2]
- DS English Training [DS]
- Pokémon Ranger [DS]
- Final Fantasy XII [PS2]
- Pro Yakyu Netsu Star 2006 [PS2]
- Pro Yakyu Spirit 3 [PS2]