Today’s reveal of the new Nintendo Switch gaming system brings into focus five lessons every church leader needs to know to connect with millennial and iKids generations. The new system, which will be available in March 2017, features a video of people in their twenties using the new gaming system to interact in multiple ways with their friends. Here are five things we can learn about the thinking behind the system:
- Gaming is not just for children and teenagers.
The gamers in the video reveal of the new system are people in their twenties who show how the versatility the Nintendo Switch fits into their on-the-go, in-the-moment lifestyle. While Nintendo’s previous systems were marketed to children and families, the Switch is clearly targeted to youth and young adults.
- Flexibility is a core value.
The Switch is a hybrid of the traditional gaming systems like PlayStation or Xbox and a portable module, like the widely successful Nintendo DS system. First, it can be played like a traditional gaming system as it is hooked up to a TV. Second, its controllers can seamlessly be connected to a tablet with what looks like an 8-inch screen, which turns it into a portable gaming system that can be played anywhere. Third, the two controllers can be removed to allow two players to play the same game as they look at the tablet. Fourth, it can be linked to other switches to allow multiple player gaming.
- The Switch fosters relationships.
The Switch explodes the myth that gamers are lonely misfits who waste their time playing video games in the confines of their parents’ basements. Instead, its portability and the configuration of the controllers fits into a different narrative – gaming is about connecting with friends.
- The game doesn’t stop.
In one section of the video, a gamer continues to play the same game as he moves through a variety of locations. With the Switch, you don’t have to pause. The game continues from a ride in an airplane, a ride in a car, to your TV at your home.
- Its about the experience.
While people may fixate on the release of a revolutionary gaming system, the goal of the gaming system is to create immersive experiences through which stories of valor, of overcoming, and finding hope give people meaning and purpose.
Questions for church leaders:
- What does Nintendo’s focus on creating a system for youth and young adults tell you of the importance of connecting with this generation?
- How flexible is your programing for youth and youth adults? Do you offer multiple options and places where people can connect with your ministry?
- How are you fostering the creation of meaningful and healthy relationships?
- How do you help people discover that their relationship with Jesus is an ongoing process that is active no matter where they are? How do you teach people to have daily and ongoing prayer, to read the Scripture in a way that informs everything they do, and to see each encounter with another person as an opportunity to share God’s love and grace?
- How are you turning your worship services into transformational experiences and creating multiple small groups and outreach group experiences where people can integrate their spirituality with their daily living?
Craig Kennet Miller is the author of iKids: Parenting in the Digital Age and Director of Congregational Development at Discipleship Ministries with the United Methodist Church