“Welcome to warp zone!” How Playing Nintendo in My Parents Basement Poised Me for the Consumer World.

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by Erink.

You remember that feeling, that rush that overtook your small frame when you first opened that shiny Nintendo cardboard box for the first time.  Sure, your friends may have let you play with theirs, you may have even considered yourself a skilled “gamer” (though it would be years before anyone would classify themselves as such) but this was your Nintendo consul, your chance at video game glory.

In my case, my victories were to be shared with my younger brother.  As it turned out, the majority of my defeats would also be his doing.  Regardless of this fact, nothing (NOTHING) could take away the feeling that I was part of something bigger, something that was in my control (at age 8 there really isn’t much that lays within your control) and somehow this was my destiny realized.

Granted, I wasn’t really a little Italian fellow battling through mysterious worlds to save my princess, nor would I have responded to the name Zelda in real life, but after a few days hunkered over the hand-me-down TV in the basement a few things had become very clear:

  • Mushrooms will always shrink you
  • The dog will perpetually steal your ducks (or worse, laugh at you when you miss)
  • The donkey is not your friend
  • Different scenes call for different ambiance: Mario Brothers Dungeon Music


It had also become clear that blowing on the game cartridge was the secret that solved all skipping, hiccups, and    worst of all, the dreaded blinking red light of death….



I am happy, and somewhat disappointed, to say that I no longer play video games.  However, a few lessons have stuck with me years later when it comes to my consumer experience based on those afternoons in the basement:

  • Products that allow you to fix something yourself will always find favor with me (just imagine trying to blow on your iPad if it breaks.)
  • The emotional attachment that comes when I am given control is still addicting.
  • I, like nearly all American consumers these days, will always expect the next version to be better, shinier, and more user friendly than the previous version (compare Super Mario Bros. to Mario Cart which came out only a few years later.)

These lessons are not specific to the video game industry, all segments of consumer culture (including home builders) ought to be aware this is what your customers have come to expect.  Put the tools and products in place that will give your consumers that “fresh out of the package,” “I am going to rule the world and be cooler than all of my friends” feeling.  At this point, the princess whose face is merely a pixilated compilation of tan boxes just isn’t worth saving anymore.


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