MAKE:TNT Tools 'n' Tips


by Kristina Reed

I hesitate to be honest about this. Being a kindergarten teacher, I know I’ll be lambasted for recommending a video toy … the dreaded Nintendo, no less. But I can’t help myself, and once you see this “toy” you’ll understand, and then forgive me.

Nintendogs. What crazy Japanese genius came up with this insanely cute and interactive game that appeals to kids of all ages? Was he/she sitting around on his recliner, squished into his 300 square foot apartment in Tokyo watching old Tranformer videos and eating sushi when suddenly: ”Heeey … dogs that aren’t really DOGS. But a VIDEO! No fur! No loud barking! No biting people and getting sued! Just pixels! I’m gonna make MILLIONS!” Obviously, some Nintendo think tank employee is allergic to animal fur, and bitterly so.

There are four Nintendog videos to choose from. You adopt your “dog” and have to take care of it. It needs affection, love, attention and care, just like a real dog. You have dog owner responsibilities and obligations. You train your dog, and teach him tricks, including how to sit and come when you call it. In time, you and your Nintendog will form an everlasting bond … whatever that means, considering it’s a cold, unfeeling piece of plastic and micro chips.

You earn points when you take care of your “dog.” There’s even an obedience school, with trophies to earn. And if you need to, there’s a kennel to house your other dogs. A “Doggie Ramada Inn,” if you will.

The only thing that is unrealistic about Nintendogs is that they never, ever die. They stay puppies forever, and even if you never feed it, give it love or shelter, it will still be around when you boot up your little game console. That’s a moral dilemma I’ve been wrestling with since I discovered this strange addiction.

So this is the toy I chose to write about. A video game. And I’m not proud of it…I wish I could lie and say Lincoln Logs were the coolest toy around, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.