Tooling around the web I found some fascinating tidbits about Nintendo. My quest began when I browsed the editorial calendar from one of the publications I write for. It said Nintendo, the company, was founded in 1889. It’s been around almost a century and a quarter. Digital trivia I needed to know more about, and I was surprised by what I learned.
Nintendo (the word, says the company website, means something like “Leave luck to heaven” in Japanese) originally made card games. Later, according to Wikipedia, they dabbled in being a taxi company, a TV Network, an instant rice maker, and what is carefully described as a “love hotel.”
Now, they’re mega-players in one of Japan’s busiest industries, electronic gaming. They own the Seattle Mariners baseball team and are worth almost $100 billion.
Before Nintendo wowed the world with two guys, Mario and Luigi, they owned Japanese distribution rights to a video game system most baby boomers will remember, Magnavox Odyssey, often considered the world’s first home video game system. Odyssey was first demonstrated in May, 1973 (again, according to Wikipedia). I recall clearly playing Light Tennis until my eyes went glassy and I had to pee so badly it felt like my teeth were floating.
The first NES game system debuted in the U.S. in 1985 – accompanied by Super Mario Brothers, still a hands-down favorite among serious game enthusiasts. If you think back, you’ll recall that it came with the light gun and Duck Hunt, too, an amazing feat of electronic wizardry for its time.
From manufacturing cards to swamping the electronic home game industry with the innovative Wii system in 2007, Nintendo has come a long way. They’re winding up to pitch a 3D handheld DS game this year, and keep tossing out new ideas all the time like a program to integrate DS game decks into school curricula.
Leave luck to heaven might well be the company motto. Skill and business sense seem to be where it’s at for this firm that employs about 4,000 people in more than half a dozen countries. You go, Mario.