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Craft play

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our intelligence tool featuring the most creative and effective ideas in marketing from around the world

Japanese games company creates cardboard accessories for consoles

is selling interactive build-and-play cardboard sets, which allow Nintendo Switch owners to create new interfaces and play games in new ways.


Nintendo is selling two different Nintendo Labo kits: The Variety Kit and The Robot Kit. Each one comprises modular sheets of cardboard that have been designed for the Nintendo Switch console and its JoyCon controllers.

The cardboard sheets fold into different shapes, such as a piano, a motorcycle fork and a fishing rod, and integrate the Nintendo Switch and its controllers to create new interfaces for playing games.


An IR motion camera in the right JoyCon controller detects the gamer’s actions. For example, with the 13-key piano, the motion camera detects what keys are pressed, translating these into notes played out through the console.


Throughout February (2018) in Tokyo and Osaka, Nintendo Labo is launching Labo Camp. Families are invited to make, play and understand more about Labo together. The morning and afternoon events allow Labo players to create and customise new Toy-Con’s with the Nintendo team. The event is exclusive to elementary school children and parents, allowing families to build and customise Toy-Cons together. This opens the opportunity for all family members to be involved in the gaming experience.

Nintendo Labo is set for release on April 27, 2018. The Variety Kit will cost $69.99; the Robot Kit, $79.99. A customisation set which includes accessories such as stickers and tape will also be available for $9.99.


Challenging perceptions / Children are growing up in a world of digital media. Screen-based lifestyles are said to contribute to physical problems such as obesity, and mental health concerns. Common Sense media claims children under eight years old spend two hours and 19 minutes a day in front of a screen, and 48% of children under eight have their own tablet device.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that parents and caregivers develop a family media plan, taking into account the health, education and entertainment needs of each child, as well as the whole family. Jenny Readesky, MD of AAP and lead author of the policy statement, Media and Young Minds, said: ‘What’s most important is that parents be their child’s ‘media mentor.’ That means teaching them how to use it [gaming] as a tool to create, connect and learn.’

Although the Nintendo Labo induces children to spend more time in front of a screen, it mitigates this by introducing physical interaction and problem solving, which is likely to appeal to parents. The modular cardboard sheets require curiosity, and even present an opportunity for parents to spend time with their children when constructing the kits (acting as a media mentor - see above).

Again, though users are still using a screen, the Labo interfaces at least add an element of physicality to gaming, beyond pressing the same couple of button repeatedly, and could be seen as slightly healthier than more sedate games.

Moving forward / In 2014, Google released Google Card, a virtual reality headset developed by Google to be used with a smartphone.

The Nintendo Labo takes cardboard modification a step further than the Google Card, allowing gamers to experience and create on a deeper level than the Google VR set allows for. If sales from the Google card are anything to go by, with the company shipping 10 million VR sets since launch (as of Feb 2017), Nintendo Labo has the opportunity to appeal to a mass market of gamers, with a more diverse offer.