Are you ready to visit the Louvre on your Nintendo 3DS system?
Like a comic book villain, the "Are Video Games Art?" debate is an entity that comes back to haunt us at every turn. Time goes by, all seems quiet, then BLAM! Watch out, Batman! That-game-company's next project is right behind you! This isn't my foray into that argument. Instead, I want to bring your attention to a game that is art, Nintendo 3DS Guide: Louvre.
I suppose I am stretching the definition of "game" to fit my comparison, as Nintendo and Indieszero made no attempt to inject gameplay into the experience. When compared with Nintendo's previous efforts at educational software, one wonders whether Nintendo had any involvement at all in the development of Nintendo 3DS Guide: Louvre. Louvre doesn't contain any of that Nintendo charm: there are neither disembodied heads nor goombas in sight.
While this release lacks fan service, its absence isn't an oversight. This software is purely for educational use, a simulation of an actual trip to the famed museum. Guided tours begin with simple introductions, footsteps echo throughout the hallways, and trips up the escalator are all part of the experience. Not only does Nintendo 3DS Guide: Louvre act as a virtual tour, but it aims to be a companion piece to the real deal. Users are able to highlight their favourite works of art, and the software will create a set of directions and act as an audio guide.
While its feature-set is in some ways thorough, its lack of interactivity damages Nintendo 3DS Guide: Louvre. Despite successful trips to the Royal Ontario Museum and Ontario Science Center, my oldest daughter couldn't muster any interest in this software. While my experience is completely anecdotal, it drives the point home that for as much as a simulation as it strives to be, it lacks the hands-on feeling of actually being there. Those trips my daughter enjoyed drew her in because she was encouraged to participate, and not to solely play the role of an observer.
Perhaps there remains a lesson to be learned here after all. Before all else, the Louvre functions as a keeper of history. The facility and its staff educate, maintain, and enable the study of artwork so that visitors may understand the importance of expression. Nintendo, too, can and should preserve its own history. Their efforts are made visible through the Virtual Console and various software releases like Kirby's Dream Collection and Super Mario All-Stars. While Nintendo's intentions thus far have been good, there is a lot of work left to be done. Not knowing if or when I will be able to play Yoshi's Island on the Virtual Console is a shame, and Nintendo must remedy that. Nontheless, it's undeniable that Nintendo has a rich history that goes far beyond video games. Nintendo should reflect on its roots and consider novel ways in which gamers may learn about how the company came to be what it is today.