When Nintendo announced Labo last month, its novel use of cardboard struck some as a bizarre choice for a video game peripheral. However, according to Nintendo, at least in Japanese culture, the choice kind of made sense.
"I'm sure we surprised everyone with the use of cardboard, but it's not so far-fetched if you consider how familiar the material is, at least to Japanese people who, from a young age, use it for play and as a material for creating things such as fancy crafts," Nintendo director and managing executive officer Shinya Takahashi said during a fiscal report Q&A session.
But more so, Takahashi said when developing a robot prototype Nintendo discovered the trial and error process of building the machine was "extremely fun." The use of cardboard, he adds, was suited this type of play perfectly.
"That led to our concept for Nintendo Labo to be developed as something that people could enjoy in all of its aspects, not just in playing with the finished product, but also in making changed along the way and after it is complete," Takahashi said.
According to video game luminary and Nintendo representative director Shigeru Miyamoto, when the company asked for internal ideas for different ways the Nintendo Switch Joycons could be used, it received "many, many" proposals. Nintendo, he adds, is the type of company to welcome new, novel ideas – such as Labo's use of cardboard.
"The fact that it was perfectly natural for a product like Nintendo Labo to arise gives me reassurance that everyone inside the company understands and is committed to Nintendo as a company that innovates new ways to have fun," Miyamoto said.
Nintendo says it sees Labo as a way to introduce video games – and the Switch – to a broader market than just "game enthusiasts."
"By creating an environment where parents and children can play together, and where children can play under adult supervision, we hope to gain even the interest of people like mothers," Takahashi said.
"Our ultimate ambition is for a Nintendo Switch to be owned not just by every family, but by every single person," Miyamoto added.