Gaming and Parenting: In Defense of the Nintendo 2DS


Why the Nintendo 2DS is perfect for families with young gamers. 

Nintendo announced the impending release of their 2DS handheld system last week. As one would expect, the Internet was quick to react. Many questioned the point of releasing a downgraded 3DS. Several criticized the clunky, wedge-like design and the fact that Nintendo has chosen to eschew the larger 3ds XL screen size.

Others just voiced a collective “What’s the point?” As the father of a burgeoning gamer—one that has his own 3DS XL at the ripe old age of 5—I can tell you without hesitation that if the 2DS had been available last Christmas, Santa definitely would have left on eat our house. The 2DS is a near-perfect system for its target audience: young children.

3d-glasses-kid

3D and Young Children Don’t Mix

I’m not the only parent that won’t take my kids to see 3D movies. Admittedly, I’m no fan of them myself. I think 3D is a gimmick and unnecessarily distracts from what I’m watching. I made an exception once—when The Phantom Menace was released in 3D. My son, who has seen Episode I at least 50 times, lasted a grand total of 20 minutes before stating that the glasses “bugged him” and the movie “hurt his eyes.” We bailed before the inevitable headache and nausea kicked in.

When my son received his 3DS, it was with the caveat that he would not, under any circumstances, be allowed to play in 3D. The stereoscopic 3D system utilized by the 3DS is brutal enough on my 35-year-old eyes. I can only imagine the effect it would have on the eyes of an antsy, developing five-year-old. It seems Nintendo agrees with me, suggesting that children under the age of seven should not play with 3D enabled.

Even back in the 80’s, I always loved watching the occasional 3D movie on TV with the old blue and red glasses. Kids love the idea of something jumping out of the screen at them. But technological advances have created 3D systems that exceed what young children are capable of processing. So while I’d have no problem letting him play 3-D World Runner on an old NES, I do take issue with him playing Super Mario 3D Land. The latter is far harder on the eyes. But you try explaining that to a five year old.

3d-world-runner

The 2Ds will eliminate the constant—and I mean constant—need to explain why 3D mode must remain locked in the off position. I get where my son is coming from.  He knows that this little handheld piece of wonder can show him things in 3D. One can’t blame him for wanting to try it out. With the 2DS, the question wouldn’t even come up. No 3D, no problem.  He’d never know what he (thinks he’s) missing.

No Hinges – Harder to Break, Easier to Hold

Hinges break. Particularly plastic hinges that aren’t all that tight in the first place. Frankly, I’m shocked that my son’s 3DS hasn’t split in two already.  Despite constant reminders, he insists on carrying it around open, usually by the top screen. Watching that bottom half flop around as he asks for help on Lego Batman drives me absolutely insane. Replacing a 3DS is not an inexpensive undertaking. And kids will be kids.

I applaud Nintendo for the blocky, one-piece design of the 2DS. It absolutely looks like “My First Nintendo,” and I don’t consider that to be a negative at all. Kids are brutally hard on toys. And bikes. And clothes. And remote controls. And their younger sisters. They are, essentially, tiny bulls in a china shop that is world-sized. The 2DS dramatically reduces the risk factor of handing a young child a piece of technology by eliminating moving parts. I think most parents would agree that simpler is better when it comes to toy design, and in its own way, the 2DS is very elegant.

broken-3ds

It is also functional. The hinged screen of the 3DS and 3DS XL requires relatively steady hands, which many children lack. The 2DS gives kids something solid to grip. And the unibody construction eliminates the constant temptation to move the screen to get a better view. The control placement on the 2DS is more ergonomically suited for little hands, and focuses little eyes on the top screen intuitively, instead of allowing for adjustments.

nintendo-handheld-iterations

Nintendo is no stranger to multiple iterations of hardware, particularly in the handheld sector. The original Game Boy and subsequent generations of Nintendo handhelds have been revamped, redesigned, re-released, shrunk and super-sized for years. Some changes have been more successful than others. While the jury is still out on the Nintendo 2DS, this parent thinks that it is a well-designed system that fills a gap in the marketplace.

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