Friday, October 23, 2009

"E" For Everyone - Gaming & It's Hypothetical Pool of Data

While watching iCarly yesterday (because it’s that cool), I was reflecting on all the holiday ads directed at kids and the incredible advancements that have been made in the world of toys. I’m not just talking about the Easy Bake Oven that now comes with awesome new frosting tools and a sleek, smooth shape or the doll that does number one and two (why????). I was particularly interested in the video games that were coming out this season, specifically for the Nintendo DSi.

The Nintendo DSi comes equipped with a built in camera that allows you to take photos and upload them directly to Facebook or to play around with them within the unit. There are hundreds of games available and it’s got wireless connectivity so that you can get online using the DSi browser, chat with your friends, play games online and do all sorts of other cool things that the internet affords you to do.

There’s a fairly new (launched about a year ago) series of games out called “Imagine”. There are about 25 titles under the “simulation” series including Imagine Fashion Designer, Music Fest, Secret World, Interior Designer, Wedding Designer and Detective.

It occurred to me how brilliant this would have been a few years ago when I was working with a major automotive company that really wanted to get a handle on what kids were thinking and doing online and off. We ended up building a (today archaic) social network to cultivate conversations and link trending. Even then, we had categories designed for different groups of interest. The Imagine Series has 25 categories allowing kids to fully interact with a vocational interest or hobby. You can design clothes, create a band, enter your deepest secrets and of course...share everything!

I’m always fascinated by the organization, collection and ultimate use of information and so I can’t help but view this series as such a great opportunity to source qualitative data from an otherwise extremely elusive target. As the users dump their details into the network, there are all sorts of trends that can be observed. Nintendo could theoretically collect anything from emerging fashion to musical tastes and behavioral information (through all the “fun” quizzes) and align them geographically by age and any other identifiable traits collected through registration. Even dialogues can be scraped for content over the chat and email systems.

Here are a couple of examples of how the games are marketed:

My Secret World

· Express yourself in the diary, which is fully customizable like an interactive scrapbook

· Know yourself better with dozens of fun quizzes and your personality star

· Socialize with your friends trading tons of customization elements, sharing secrets, taking quizzes together or playing mini-games

Music Fest - Create a Band, Run the Concert!

· You’ve just scored a chance to attend the premier Music Fest, where you’ll be in charge of creating a band, designing their look, and putting on a rockin’ concert! Design your band's logo, customize the look of their instruments, hair, and wardrobe, and earn cash to buy cool new clothes and accessories for your band!

Fashion Designer World Tour

· Design the next big thing in fashion and travel the world to build it into a worldwide fashion label. Create unique fashion collections; even use the Nintendo DSi™ to take pictures and apply them to your designs! As a young designer, launch your international brand, open boutiques around the world, and design the hottest, most wanted fashion in the world!

Last year Nintendo reported 96,220,000 units sold with roughly a quarter between April-December 2008. A separate analyst’s report stated that by 2011, Nintendo DSi would penetrate a staggering 89% of Japanese households.

100 million (by now) units is a lot of hands. Nintendo’s market has primarily been focused on ages 5-17. A few years ago, this was heavily skewed to males but with the introduction of games like Zelda and the understanding that mothers were a prime target (mother influence 85% of all household purchases), the market has broadened significantly to include girls 5-17 and women 25-45.

Now…take all of this with a grain of salt. It’s really just theoretical but it's so deliciously viable. I'm not suggesting that there's a play here for children's intellectual property (not blatantly at least) but I did check the general privacy policy and found this line fairly close to the top:

“we will only collect the information deemed reasonably necessary to fulfill your online requests and our legitimate business objectives”

I'd be curious to see the policies for the individual games.

Data mining has become a game of survival let alone a "legitimate business objective".