Boxes, The Future of Technology

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So, cardboard…yeah… this wasn’t what I was expecting. This isn’t a bad move by any means, just a weird one.

If someone came up to me 2 months ago and told me that Nintendo would be hyping up pieces of constructible cardboard as the next big thing, I’d probably call them an idiot. Then I’d probably start running away since I just called a stranger an idiot and I don’t want to find out how they coup with personal insults.

Now some of you might be lost right now, like why am I rambling on about cardboard in a column about video games? We’re dealing with hardware that goes for triple-digit sales, why would the thing that you use to store your stuff on moving day be such a big issue? The answer to that is incredibly simple:

Labo, god damn Labo.

Labo is the title for Nintendo’s new line of gaming peripherals, constructible toys that are compatible with games on the Nintendo Switch, otherwise known as Nintendo’s portable money printer. So, if you had a fishing game, you’d build a fishing pole and stick the controller in certain spots so it would operate as a regular fishing pole.

And on the surface, this is nothing new, gaming peripherals have always been a thing with Nintendo. Since the dawn NES, Nintendo has always been hellbent on selling some form of toy or attachment with a game since they hate controllers so much.

We’ve had plastic guns (duck hunt), touch mats (for dancing/ gimmick games), microphones (hey you Pikachu), plastic crossbows (links crossbow training), plastic bongo drums (it was a Donkey Kong game, you know the one), a plastic robot (R.O.B), steering wheels for racing games.

And of course, the Power Glove. Don’t lie, it wasn’t that great, but damn did it look cool for a gaming peripheral.

Nintendo loves its toys, so why is this one such a big deal? Its because the toy is now coming in the form of cardboard. The toys are normally made of plastic, but now Nintendo decided that plastic was too mainstream.

Labo is all cardboard and string, forcing your kid to build it themselves.

I’m sorry did I say your kid? I meant to say you the older sibling/ parent/ guardian cause no way in hell are you purchasing a 60-79-dollar box of cardboard just to watch your kid break it in the first 5 minutes. Enjoy the first half of the experience, the work, while your kid enjoys the other half without you.

And don’t even think about purchasing this for yourself, there’s a reason that Lego sets are so expensive and complex. It’s because those are your adult toys now, you already kicked all the kids out of that hobby. Don’t go ruining this one for the kids. You don’t let Stanley play with the millennium falcon anymore because he chipped Han Solo’s plastic headpiece, don’t take the cardboard house away from him now.

Now I don’t hate the idea of Labo, I hate the price tag because for 60-79 bucks I could buy a Lego set for a kid and not have to worry about them breaking it beyond repair. No, I think Labo will be enjoyable for kids, well at least the ones who know how to take care of stuff.

The only thing that bothers me, the only thing that makes me wanna write about this is this one question…how?

How did this company, with all the IPS and technology, with all the funding and market research, settle on a product that most people lose interest in at age 5?

For weeks I’ve thought about this question because nothing else is happening in society that is as important as trying to figure out what makes a company based in Japan tick!

And then, last night, as I began to contemplate a conspiracy between Nintendo and the producers of cardboard to milk the consumer out of their hard-earned cash (yes, I honestly considered this option, and you have no proof that it wouldn’t be possible), it hit me.

Nintendo makes all of its decisions via roulette wheel.

NO WAIT, HEAR ME OUT ON THIS ONE.

Nintendo has had a lot of weird ideas over the years that seem to come out of left field. Pink balls that eat people (Kirby), elf’s cutting grass to find money (Zelda), wildlife that can pilot space fighter jets (Star Fox), the entire plot to NARC (I’ll leave you the viewer to look that one up on your own) and of course the Mario Bros (like do I have to seriously describe the Mario Bros).

There is no pattern to these decisions, they are all different from one another and too diverse to fit under any category.

Think about it, you can describe a developer Microsoft or EA pretty easily since they generally stick to one line of thinking in their games. But Nintendo is a bit different, sure you could just slap kid friendly on them and call it a day, but that’s too broad to be of any use. That and too simplistic because Nintendo has released a lot of games that weren’t exactly kid-friendly despite what the ESRB says. There is a reason why, whenever we try to describe a game made by Nintendo, the first thing we state or think is that “it’s a Nintendo game” before giving a deeper description.

Nintendo has been the default “weird but incredibly fun” game developer for years. It’s why Pokémon gets mistaken for a Nintendo IP when really its own by an independent company called Game Freak. It’s such an odd idea that we instinctively attribute to Nintendo.

Now, what is a device that gives out random results with no way of predicting it?

Roulette wheels, that’s what, they give out random results all the time. Just tape a bunch of pieces of paper with ideas written on them to the wheel and give it a spin. Whatever the ball lands on becomes Nintendo’s newest product

That’s how they can come outa left field with some of these ideas, that’s why they can charge 60 dollars for god damn cardboard and not think anything is wrong with this picture.

Free will is an illusion, all is decided via roulette wheel.

What’s that? You think that Nintendo comes up with these ideas through a creative environment and a desire to innovate outside of the graphics department that has chained Microsoft and EA to a radiator? That Nintendo might be the only company out there that maybe wants to make bring joy to people even if it means going through unconventional means? That maybe, just maybe, that this one company might actually take gaming as an art form seriously and is willing to push the boundaries even if the average consumer might not be into it? That the US definition of gaming is too single-minded and has been reduced to people chanting the term 4k like its some magic word that prints money?

That I might be a cynic whose head is shoved so far up my own rear end that I can no longer see reason?

Don’t be ridiculous.

Now get on board with my conspiracy theory as to why a company with a target demographic mainly focused onto kids would make a child-themed product design to make money off of parents who want their kids to do more outside of staring at a screen.

(here’s the trailer for Labo)