Kappa Kappa Wii
Across the country this summer, Nintendo has been hosting a series of themed parties to introduce people who aren't your typical gamers to the Wii. I didn't have to think about it for even one second. I heard "party" and that was all the convincing I needed.
Seriously, I have no idea how I got so lucky. I mean, look at the party invites?
That's right - blinged out sorority paddles were mailed to all the attendees. A shuttle bus was arranged to have us all arrive together. The party was set up in a lovely ballroom at a lovely hotel, and before they let us walk through the door, they gave us all sparkly tiaras. The enthusiastic Kappa Kappa Wii sisters led the assembled guests through a few cheers and then opened the doors to the party.
The angels sang. The hard-core gamers wept. (More on that in a minute...)
And then, we walked in to this:
That's right. We had a lovely buffet, wait-staff bringing around fantastic tidbits, game stations set up around the room (a total of 5 stations, each with a selection of games and multiple controllers, a full bar, and around each of the play areas, buckets of popcorn and candy.
It was like heaven. With video games. And pink shag carpets. And champagne.
My four-year-old daughter immediately ran to the first bucket of candy and uttered this little "oooooh!" and began grabbing fistfuls of candy. The moms lined up at the bar, and within minutes, we had the party rockin'.
Within a few moments of our arrival, we had our first mom-daughter boxing showdown:
Once the normally mild-mannered mama pictured on the left knocked her daughter's Mii out and did a vigorous In-Your-Face dance, all the newly-inducted Kappa Kappa Wii mamas wanted a piece of that action. (You can see my four-year-old chawing on some candy in the background.)
Here's me taking on my Mom. I kicked her butt.
My four-year-old is next to me, still chawing. It took about an hour before she was literally running laps around the room. My eight-year-old daughter, the co-hostess of this little soiree, was beaming from ear to ear as she played with all of her friends.
We had the chance to play Wii Sports, Wii Play, Mario Party 8, Wii Boogie and another title that is escaping my mind right now... probably because I was all about the damn cow-racing. You should have seen me, taking out the eight-year-olds with no guilt.
I'm sorta competitive.
The kids had a great time, too. Look!
Yes, Wii had a good time. The bartender was serving up sodas in real glasses:
and he allowed my youngest to shake him down for napkins full of maraschino cherries before I finally cut her off.
The Nintendo party staff was fantastic - they even got my mom, a reluctant gamer, especially after I beat her in boxing, to try the cow-racing game:
It was so much fun, such a relaxed atmosphere to hang out with friends and laugh ourselves sick as we tried out these great programs.
When I was invited to join the Wii party circuit, I was impressed with the angle - certainly moms control the spending for most families, and deserved to be courted. But instead of trying to sell us on the educational benefits, or the unique, physical game play and how it is a benefit for our kids, Nintendo just asked us to have fun, and explore what the system could do. Even better, they are listening, and creating games that appeal to women. The upcoming Wii Fit has me excited, and I know I'm not the only one.
I had the chance to visit EGM last month, and along with my fellow Nintendo Mom, Stefania Pomponi Butler, recorded a podcast with Jennifer Tsao and Shane Bettenhausen where we talked about this whole notion of marketing to so-called "alpha moms." I don't really consider myself an alpha-mom...I'm just a mom with a (couple of) blogs, and a wide circle of friends who like to have fun. And you know what? I came away from the experience with a smile on my face, and a Wii to play with with my family.
I was a little surprised to hear about the anger some hard-core gamers have towards this marketing strategy. I guess I understand why there might be some consternation over the development dollars and effort being split in new directions - especially toward these non-traditional, not-game games. Sorry, y'all. It wasn't my call. But you know what? It has me playing, in little fifteen minute intervals, with my entire family joining in. And you know what else? That is all the time I can devote to playing. A few silly minutes of boxing or off-road truck racing, and I'm back to laundry, dishes, dinner and homework supervision. I can't devote myself to role-playing games or complicated adventures right now - but someday, I might. And even more importantly to Nintendo and game developers, my kids might.
In a family with young kids, violent, visually intense games are not ever going to be welcome in a family area. Wii's non-gamer approved games give us a new way to get silly and interact with each other. We've been having a blast teaming up with Boogie. The kids have been busting out the Pokemon Battle Revolution using our Nintendo DS as controllers. And we're aware that there are more sophisticated options out there for the Wii. We're looking forward to exploring together.
I feel really lucky to have been a part of this, and I'd be happy to tell you more about my experiences with the Wii. You can leave questions in the comments.
You see these ladies? They weren't gamers before they entered the building, but you can bet they are now.
And you know what else?
The moms who came to my party haven't stopped talking about it. Move over, hard-core gamers...there's a new breed of warrior in town. And she's carrying the purse.