Smart Mob Tool Masquerading as Video Game?

October 8th, 2004

nintendo-ds.gifLook for unplanned potential within the Nintendo DS, an upcoming handheld videogame system. It uses wi-fi, as well as a proprietary Nintendo wireless format, to let a player compete and communicate with another in the same room, or with a potentially infinite number of other players via connections to the Internet through wi-fi hotspots. The New York Times says the unit will go on sale in the U.S. November 21 for $149.

Nintendo’s marketing, the press, and the weblogs all seem fixated on the fact that this unit has two screens, and the fact that it will let people play the same old types of multiplayer games in mobile settings.

But I think a special combination of attributes make this a potential source of compelling new smartmobbish applications and behavior:
      (1) Not only does it provide wireless networking capabilities, it’s built around using wi-fi in an ad-hoc person-to-person manner — regardless of whether wi-fi hotspots are nearby.
      (2) When an open wi-fi hotspot is nearby, it can be used to connect from the field with servers on the Internet.
      (3) Kids will use it, and kids aren’t locked into narrow wireless communication paradigms.
      (4) It’s not too expensive, which might encourage a critical mass of these things in urban areas. (Compare it with Sony’s upcoming $300+ wi-fi-enabled PSP game device.)

Imagine the sociolocative fun that this might enable — if Nintendo doesn’t block out nonlicensed developers.

(Thanks to Matthew Rothenberg for the tip!)

4 Responses to “Smart Mob Tool Masquerading as Video Game?”

  1. comment number 1 by: Arthur

    If only I could read Japanese. The website launch of the Nintendo DS has been going on for a couple of weeks and at Oct. 9th, 11AM PST there were over 3.3 million views on the site.

    What would be really cool to do is to sit on a Tokyo subway for a day with a laptop and watch the Nintendo DS packets zip by. How many kids would play this? How many adults?

    If only we had a good mass transit culture here there will be so much to watch!

  2. comment number 2 by: sean


    Rats, that site’s in Flash so babelfish can’t translate it. I hate Flash sometimes…

    The device won’t be released in Japan ’til December though, so for your ethnographic research I’d check out the malls, playgrounds, skateparks in the Bay Area in a couple of months.

  3. comment number 3 by:

    Nintendo DS as Flash Mob Tool

    Sean Savage, flash mob connoisseur and proprieter of, posits the possible use of the soon to be released (November 21) Nintendo DS as social hardware. He makes the point that the devices will have built in Wi-Fi and the…

  4. comment number 4 by: Ivailo

    Your site is realy very interesting.