Nintendo

Playing videogames developed by Nintendo is more than “fun,” it’s a joyful experience.

I wasn’t originally a Nintendo fan, but after SEGA got away from their console business, I’ve discovered that their videogames are fun to play in a way that most others, aren’t. (And in a way that SEGA’s used to be, and to be fair, still occasionally are.)

Most modern videogames are more like glorified task-lists, where you accomplish micro-goals drip-by-drip as you play in a semi-automatic way. They are a bit like driving an automatic car VS a manual gearbox one.

(And I love my automatic car, but that’s because I don’t think there’s any inherent pleasure in shifting gears. I do know a lot of people who get that pleasure.)

Nintendo games are a joy just to play. The interaction between player character and environment is colourful and delightful and kinetic. There are goals, yes, but the enjoyment is not dependant on them – there is joy in the journey from one checkbox to another, rather than in a careful, constant dosing of checkboxes along an otherwise bland path, synthesized in the lab to ensure the optimal amount of dopamine release.

To play a Nintendo game is to delight in being a child again; to play most other modern games is to be a lab rat.

Sure, this art is not exclusive to Nintendo, but Nintendo is the brand that delivers it the most consistently. Bungie, I think might be the other example, but Bungie is a one-game studio. And for some reason, Japanese developers tend to deliver it more often than Western developers. But no-one, east or west, is as consistent as Nintendo.

I have limited time to play videogames, so I pick ones that make me feel genuinely happy as a consequence of the act of playing. 

I can get the joy from progressing on a goal checklist in other areas of my life.