Eye-opening article on Brain Training, a hugely popular application/game for the Nintendo DS system, available only in Japan. It's essentially a tool to keep your brain sharp, disguised as a game, and it's redefining notions of gaming. The author's thoughts are insightful: as games and gaming continue to evolve, it will be interesting to see new hybrid entertainment/educational/creative platforms emerge, and it they will happen anywhere, you know it will definitely be in Japan, first.
So, the #1 game in Japan is a non-game. My (shocking) conclusion: there is a huge market for new styles of games and new game players, and the gap between "games" and "apps" is getting smaller.
At first it's
hard to imagine something like Brain Training ever hitting the top of
the USA video game charts. Virtually impossible, I'd wager.
But, if you had told me that "Deer Hunter" would've become the top-selling computer game a few years ago, I would have pulled the car over and laughed you out of it — and yet, it happened, stunning a whole generation of developers who were working on "Brown Devil Alien Guns III"-style games.
Both successes tell a valuable lesson: there are a lot of people who could play video games, but don't, because the right software isn't there.