Nintendo’s Turnaround

Nintendo’s Turnaround

Japanese video game giant Nintendo announced last week that it sold through 7 million units of its Nintendo Switch hardware, following its release in March of this year. Before the fiscal year is over, the Switch is expected to sell 14 million units. This would put it ahead of the lifetime sales of the Wii U – its predecessor and Nintendo’s biggest flop since the illustrious Virtual Boy. It spells a remarkable turnaround for a company whose self-imposed requirement for continuous innovation led to both tremendous success and crushing failure. The Switch is the culmination of a decade of experimentation that started with the Wii, and just when the company appeared to be in dire straits, it pulled itself back on top. How did they do it? A Unified Vision In 2006, Nintendo had been stuck playing catch-up ever since Sony released the first PlayStation in 1995. Convinced that the company had to reinvent itself to stay relevant, then-president Satoru Iwata plotted a new course. Nintendo struck gold with the release of the Wii (2006), which would go on to sell 101 million units. But besides Wii Sports, the runaway hit bundled with the console, it would become clear that Nintendo had not figured out how to tie its new customer base to its brand. Seemingly unsure on where to go next, a muddled marketing campaign and scrambled design philosophy saw the company’s biggest hit followed by its biggest flop. When Nintendo presented its next generation hardware, even enthusiasts were unsure whether the Wii U (2012) was a new console, or a peripheral for the geriatric Wii. The Wii...
Keigo: Japanese Polite Speech

Keigo: Japanese Polite Speech

Martijn: Let’s talk about keigo 敬語 – polite speech in the Japanese language. The first image that comes to mind is likely that of the typical salaryman, bowing and incessantly exchanging formalities. What some people may now know, is how intrinsically polite expressions are woven into the fabric of the Japanese language. First of all, the word keigo is comprised of the characters kei 敬, meaning ‘respect’, and the character go 語, meaning ‘word’ or ‘language’. Simply put, speaking keigo means to use polite language. However, keigo goes far beyond using simply more flowery language. Basically polite Milan: The first thing that stands out about keigo is the fact that it is explicitly coded in both the Japanese vocabulary as well as its grammar. Looking at it in broad strokes, we can identify two dimensions of keigo. The first dimension is something that may be called ‘basic politeness’. Here, it is mainly the setting that determines whether keigo is used or not. Martijn: It is important to note that using polite language is the norm in Japan. Between friends, colloquial language is of course common, but when meeting someone for the first time, polite speech should be used. Milan: This basic form of politeness can easily be witnessed when assessing the verbs used in a sentence. When I want to tell a friend that I am going somewhere, I will use the verb iku (‘to go’). On the other hand, in a more formal setting, for example a meeting, I should use ikimasu. This is a form of the verb iku, with –masu added at the end. This strategy can be applied...