When you imagine the most cutting edge games currently on the market, do you picture cardboard? Probably not, but that’s exactly what Nintendo used to create their Labo system made available in 2018, a game setup that encourages kids to learn as they play.
Building Your Own Games
The vast majority of children today play video games in some form or another, so Nintendo decided to make them a little more educational. Essentially, Nintendo Labo is a blanket term for a set of cardboard construction kits intended to encourage kids to develop early engineering chops (among other skills), even if they don’t realize that’s what they’re doing. The kits can be used to create a number of different “toy-cons,” each with specific related games.
Nintendo’s earlier gaming system, the Switch, can be equipped with Labo software. Once a child has built their toy-con of choice, they can use their Switch to play with it. For example, if a child creates a piano, they can use their creation to play actual keys via the switch. The software also allows gamers to develop their own toy-cons with the garage if they should so wish.
The simplicity of cardboard may seem a return to a simpler time, but it was a calculated move on the part of Nintendo. Not only is cardboard inexpensive and easy to manipulate, it also gets kids working with their hands, something that many parents lament isn’t happening enough thanks to video game culture.
Mixing Reality with Fantasy
Perhaps the reason that so many have become transfixed with Nintendo Labo is the seamless way it integrates reality into the fantastic settings that children today crave from their entertainment sources. In this way, Labo not only encourages STEM development, but also caters to especially imaginative minds.
This encouragement of imagination through the use of Toy-Con Garage has led to some truly impressive Labo creations, like a cardboard roulette table and a singing cat. The high customizability of the software means that the sky is virtually the limit: if you can dream it, you can make it.
The latest development to the Labo line of offerings is a virtual reality kit, which gives kids the option of building out a number of headset types. In this way, gamers step into role of developers, and get a better understanding of just how their favorite recreational activities work.
A New Twist on an Old Trope
Now-classic cartoons like Spongebob and Rugrats often featured the main characters using cardboard boxes as play destinations. In these pop culture references, the boxes were shown as blank slates in which the characters could use their imaginations to develop fun.
Nintendo Labo has created a uniquely modern twist on this decades-old idea. Sure, technology plays a big role in this particular application, but kids have been playing with cardboard boxes for generations so it’s about time that this pastime caught up with modern tech. With a number of kits now available within the Labo sphere, it’s unclear where exactly the Nintendo developers gathered their inspiration for this idea. Whether it was born out of parents’ calls for something more mentally enriching, or just a back to basics line of thinking, Nintendo Labo may revolutionize the way that video games for children are created.