As a dad I couldn't be more excited about Nintendo Labo


Also, as a big kid myself

My son, Asher, was born almost three years ago on February 23, which happens to be my own birthday (send gifts). I've been waiting all these years to play video games with him. I mean, he can watch me play video games right now, and loves when I ride my motorcycle into bad guys in Breath of the Wild, but he doesn't really engage with them yet. This is mostly because his tiny little hands can't really understand the controls. 

This kills me. I want to play video games with him, but I also want him to be engaged with that gameplay instead of passively watching -- and eventually having him give up on watching and start having my amiibo battle it out on the floor, while I try to resist telling him that those aren't toys and please stop chipping the paint... Oh god, why do I let him touch anything?

The point is that the tactile is still everything to him, and I kind of love that. It makes me play more as well, ditching the controller to build THE TALLEST LEGO TOWER EVER! I just wish video games could be part of that, and now, thanks to Nintendo Labo, they can be.

Kids need to play. Please don't take this to mean that I'm saying that video games aren't good for kids or they teach children to be mass murderers. I grew up on gaming, and believe that educated parents allowing their children to play age-appropriate games can lead to some incredible family time, education, and just plain fun. But actual physical play is also insanely important for kids, both mentally and physically. Kids learn through play, and they learn more through play that's engaging, whether that be running around outside or putting together a craft.

Labo lets you do this, and lets you do it in what looks like some really cool ways. My son won't quite be old enough to put these together on his own. I'll probably be doing most of the non-coloring/non-folding work, but being able to sit down with him and create a piano from a flat sheet of cardboard will be pretty incredible. I mean, this kid gets excited when I turn a ball of Playdoh into a "snake." Imagine how his mind is going to explode when putting together an RC car that he can then drive.

This is the kind of fun, yet educational stuff that parents crave and, as an added bonus, I'll get to play video games with him in the end. I can't begin to explain to you how excited I got when that damn fishing rod thing came on in the trailer, but it was akin to them announcing a new Zelda and Mario at the same time. Kids do weird things to you, man. Weird things.

Labo also leans towards the kind of STEM learning that is a bit tricky to get kids engaged with, especially at a young age. However, by placing an emphasis on what looks like easy-to-engage-with cardboard (no small pieces to choke on!), and familiar shapes and games, Nintendo has put together STEM toys that don't seem daunting or intimidating in any way. That means my son won't get frustrated when he can't get the gears to slide together, and I won't get frustrated that he isn't solving calculus problems without a calculator yet. How is he going to support me in my old age if he isn't a super genius billionaire crime fighter!?

I think, though, the real selling point with Labo is just how much damn fun it looks. Maybe it's just that having a young child sort of rekindles the play in you, but it's been years since I was this excited to build and create things. Me from February 22, 2015, would have probably looked at this with jaded eyes, and shrugged it off as maybe a little junky, poking holes in it for whatever reason. Noting some of the comments on the site, that seems to be a general attitude towards it, but try to put on your kid glasses for a second.

THAT'S BASICALLY A FUNCTIONING CARDBOARD MECH! Guys, in a few months you can build a functioning mech and walk around in it and punch things. I mean, weren't we all doing that as kids at some point? Now my son gets to actually do that... once he's old enough. This is incredible. Let the damn kid inside you out and join Asher and I in a world of wonder and awesome.

Yes, I realize there are some issues. Cardboard isn't the sturdiest thing ever, but really nothing is in the hands of any kid under the age of 10. You could give my son a toy made out of solid adamantium and he'd find a way to break it. It's just what kids do. They are the tiny, living embodiment of destruction, and for a time their sole purpose is to stop you from having nice things. Those classic cardboard building bricks are actually some of the sturdiest toys my son has. Even so, the relative ubiquity of cardboard makes replacements seem easy, since it can all reportedly be replaced for free. Just grab that cardboard Amazon box you've had sitting in the corner since Christmas and a few downloaded design patterns. 

The price point isn't that much of a stickler for me. If you've been buying any brand-name kids toys in the past couple years, that's really not that expensive for what should constitute multiple hours of building and play for a kid. Hell, a large LEGO box set costs around $50, and don't get me started on anything that involves electronics. You pay around $30 for the aforementioned cardboard bricks. Besides, if we count this as a game then that's just $10 over base price for the cardboard in the Variety Kit. Plus, if Nintendo's DLC practices are reflective of how they'll be handling Labo, then I'm guessing we're going to see a bunch more downloadable designs that can work with new functionality sent to the game.

More important than getting my money's worth in some quantifiable way, is getting a great way to spend time with my kid that brings in gaming without ditching the physical engagement he needs to grow. There are few better moments in my life then when I see him discover something new, or realize he can build something incredible. The look on his face is nothing short of magic, and it inspires magic inside of me as well. Maybe that's why Labo struck a chord with me. It just seems like it was made to be fun; not incredible tech, not an in-depth task of construction, not the next generation of anything. It's like Nintendo sat down, looked at the Switch and thought, "How can everyone have more fun with this?" 

I think that's why I'm not just excited to play with Labo with my son, but I'm excited to be a kid again myself. To build something that lets my imagination explode. I really can't wait to do so.

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Matthew Razak
Matthew RazakEditor-in-Chief   gamer profile



Filed under... #Chilluns #Destructoid Originals #Labo #Nintendo #Nintendo Switch #Top Stories



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