Occasionally, I wonder how I’ll continue playing video games as I get older. My hands will probably slow down, and my vision could fade, but until now I never figured console makers would release hardware specifically to accommodate the aging gamer.
That’s what Nintendo appears to be doing with the DSi XL, a larger version of the Nintendo DSi that was released in April. Compared to the original DSi’s 3.25-inch displays, the XL will have 4.2-inch screens, plus a fatter stylus. Kotaku got word that the portable games machine, which will be called the DSi LL in Japan, will arrive in North America and Europe early next year.
Before Nintendo announced the DSi XL, rumors suggested that the device was a response to older gamers’ requests, though Nintendo isn’t stressing this outright — to a fault, as some writers are missing the point of what the DSi XL is about. Make no mistake, the DSi XL, whose screen resolution is the same as its predecessor, is intended for elderly gamers who need the boost, and are willing to sacrifice some portability to get it.
That’s a big deal, because it means Nintendo views the aging video game enthusiast as a market worth catering to. This hobby started as a diversion for the young, but there’s starting to be a demographic that got hooked on arcades, but is now old enough to start needing bigger screens and finger-friendly peripherals. The rest of the games industry should be proud of what’s happening here and figuring out whether they ought to replicate it.
As for the young, I’m sure there are some who will covet the DSi XL. I’ve been using my iPhone for gaming a lot lately, and having revisited the DSi to play Scribblenauts, I was taken aback by how small the screens seem in comparison. But I’m not going to complain about how this console update is too soon after the original DSi. If anything, it didn’t come soon enough.