At the end of their article ‘Nintendo® and New World Travel Writing’ Mary Fuller and Henry Jenkins ask: ‘what exactly is the cultural status of a Nintendo® game?’. In the global media networks, dominated by flows from West to East, and North to South, the domination by Nintendo, a Japanese company, of the home console market from the mid-eighties to the early-nineties represents a significant disruption. The phenomena was unprecedented a generation of Western children grew up playing with – and in – Nintendo.
In this paper I will argue that Nintendo is implicated in three key developments in the global media system. First, Nintendo represents the first mass use of household interactive entertainment, and the Nintendo generation were the first to be familiar with this new form of participatory media. Second, Nintendo was key in introducing the notion of cybernetic commodity as a marketing system. This form of commodification refers to the media product that is designed as a closed interactive system that structures and organises play and entertainment. Finally, Nintendo games precipitated a distinguishable hybrid aesthetic among videogames that utilizes both Japanese and Western iconography. This hybrid media played a key role in proselyting Japanese popular culture in the West.