Nintendo Canada’s new Get Up and Play site is a perfect microcosm for the whole Nintendo worldwide strategy. Where as most platform holder’s game details generally focus on bite sized write ups on the game’s features and technical capabilities and requirements, along with the pre-requisite screen shots and videos, this site emphasizes a game’s “Activity Level” and what physical aspects it works. A game like Wii Sports has an “Activity Level” of 5/5 and it works your: muscles, reflexes, team building, balance skills, coordination, funny bone and smile; whereas a game like Super Mario Galaxy (activity level 3/5) works your: imagination, reflexes, coordination, concentration and smile.
It’s all arbitrary but I give them credit for being unique. These scales are quantifiable to the demographics they are going after in ways that “Dolby 5.1 surround” and “HDTV 720p” aren’t. It’s also a good way for Nintendo to differentiate itself from its competitors as they could not do the same thing (apart from “Reflexes” and “Team Building”, what would a game like Halo 3 build? Your aim? Your testosterone? Most likely your patience… for dealing with Mr. average XBox Live douchebag.)
Even so, measuring a game by its effects is not something that most publishers would want to do. Not the mainstream ones. And definitely not for M-rated games. In a way, Nintendo (no M-rated game is featured on the site, even “for parents”) is confirming that videogames do have tangible physical and mental effects on a player. With all the recent talk about the psychological harms of violent videogames, and whether they exist or not, this kind of acknowledgement is something the M-rated game publishers would like to avoid. Some more than others.