It’s fun to “Make, Play, and Discover”
Many parents have expressed interest in Nintendo Labo because they see educational value in it, particularly in the Toy-Con Garage mode. From what I’ve been hearing, it doesn’t seem like specialists from the academic sector were brought in to consult on development. Can you talk a little about the educational aspects of the product?
Mr. Kawamoto: You’re correct that the development of Nintendo Labo was handled internally, and we didn’t intentionally aim to make an educational product. However, we did set out to make Toy-Con Garage as easy to use as possible, so that even young children can set up a project and experience the joy of seeing it work. The Toy-Con assembly process and the software were both created with this goal in mind.
Mr. Sakaguchi: We designed the games included with each Toy-Con to show off what a professional can do with the system. You don’t need to jump into Toy-Con Garage to have a deep experience with Nintendo Labo. Simply building the Toy-Con projects in the kits and following along with the instructions is a fascinating experience. Building and discovering how the piano works, for example, is really intriguing.
So the “Discover” portion of Nintendo Labo is fully explained in the software?
Mr. Sakaguchi: Right. I also want to emphasize that one of our goals was to explain how the technology behind the Toy-Con creations works, so we've designed the Discover portion of the software to be as user friendly as possible. An interesting etymology tidbit: I believe the word “discover” originates from the idea of removing the cover from an object.
Mr. Kawamoto: For example, you can use the Nintendo Switch console’s touch screen to view transparent versions of the Toy-Con creations and Joy-Con, which are a lot of fun to play with. We designed the Discover portion of the software so that you can enjoy the character interactions even if you don’t understand what’s being explained.
Truthfully, our highest priority was to make something interesting and fun. We wanted to make an experience that helped people see that discovering how things work is fun in-and-of itself, and that making things is rewarding.
Mr. Sakaguchi: And it’s not just discovering and making, the playing is fun too!
Mr. Kawamoto: Yeah. (Laughs.)
I think that if we want to get people to enjoy the making and discovery portions, the play aspect of the product needs to be a lot of fun. It’s a very important part.
Mr. Ogasawara: We can’t speak with authority on what makes something educational or not.
Mr. Kawamoto: We aren’t education specialists, after all.
So rather than calling it an educational product...
Mr. Kawamoto: We really just want our customers to experience the joy and fun of making things.
Mr. Sakaguchi: I have personally learned so much from games over the years, so I hope that everyone that gets the chance to experience Nintendo Labo finds something valuable they can take away from it.