Let's talk about interactive children's entertainment, children's literature, and magic

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March 26, 2011

The Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo's Fads, Microsoft's Sweet-Spot, and why Children's Literature is Awesome

Nintendo's Official Seal of Quality in NTSC re...Image via Wikipedia

The first thing you need to know about Nintendo? The blue ocean strategy: basically, this means creating a market where one never existed before, rather than fighting over pre-existing customers.

Nintendo did this brilliantly when they introduced the Wii  in 2006. Microsoft and Sony were fighting to the death over  18 to 34 year old males, offering expensive hardware that required tons of investment and huge costs of goods on every console sold.

Meanwhile, Nintendo said 'let's get everyone playing video games, regardless of age or gender.'

March 20, 2011

Adults as Children, Children as Adults

Someone smart whose name I forget said that the best way to deal with children is to treat them as adults, and the best way to deal with adults is to treat them like children.

In his masterpiece, Las Meninas, the artist portrays his subjects from their own view.

The picture is full of other royals, nobles and servants, all described here.  Young children keep the king and queen company, entertaining them during the long, dull process of sitting for a portrait.

A college professor of mine was once asked whether he liked children. He said this was like asking someone if they liked a particular ethnicity or gender. In other words, not all kids are the same, because not all people are the same.

For a long time, I thought the child on the right was rather special:

Sometimes it helps to write for a particular audience, because as my professor said, kids aren't the same.I don't write for all kids aged 10-12. Murukami said if only 1 out of 10 customers came back to his bar, that 1customer is the one he had to cater to. I write for kids who can't put down books. There aren't as many these days, but it doesn't matter.  This child in Velásquez's work represented the 1 child I wrote for as opposed to the other 9.

There was something special about this kid. He seems serious about playfulness: patient, thoughtful, and noble. If there had been flashlights back then, I bet he would have used them to read after bedtime. Maybe he even risked candles. This was my audience.

Last winter I saw Velásquez's painting up close and decided to find out who this inspiring young child was.

The child in question is described in detail:

To the right of the Infanta are two dwarfs, [including] the Italian, Nicolas Pertusato (5), who playfully tries to rouse a sleepy mastiff with his foot.

This child was actually the inner child of an adult, playing with a dog like a wise man. He was a prince within a king --a child within  an adult .

I'd been writing for an adult in the pleasant disguise of childhood. And maybe that sums up good kids literature.

The best children's entertainment is what Hollywood calls a four quadrant product, because it appeals to all the major demographics of a household--children and adults alike.

If we write for the mature, wise centers of our young readers, we cannot help but reach the children in adults too.

March 04, 2011

Magic and Writing as Tragedy

Although they both are devoted to audiences--exist for them, in fact, both magic and writing naturally require solitude that a practitioner of either must accept if he or she is to find success.

The technique of magic cannot be shared with an audience or laymen, for doing so negates the end result of the process. In other words, showing someone how a trick is done makes the work committed to pulling it off worthless.

Writing cannot be done alone unless it is a collaborative work, and yet being with other people is necessary if you want anything to write about.

Both magic and writing exist for an audience. The irony is that successful execution of either requires solitude.