Nintendo’s Wii Tracks Player Usage

In 2005 the ESA announced that each of the three next-gen consoles would include ESRB rating-based parental controls. Nintendo, however, seems keen on taking the monitoring concept further.

According to the latest in a series of interviews with the Wii development team, the new system will have a "Play History" feature which tracks how long gamers play as well as what they are playing.

"Rather than the console turning itself off automatically to ensure it is not played for more than an hour a day, it seemed much better to allow parents to use the Play History to discuss with their children how much they are using the console," explained Tomoaki Kuroume, who oversees software user interfaces. "The decision to make it impossible to delete this data was a separate subject for debate."

"Even if a kid wakes up in the middle of the night and sneaks down to play games, that will show up on the Play History!" added Takashi Aoyama, manager of the development group behind Wii’s operating system. 

"Ultimately, the Play History fulfills the function of telling parents how long their kids have been playing, as well as being an interesting talking point," continued Kuroume. "It’s just really fun for users to be able to see the record of how long they played. That’s why we decided to make the Play History impossible to reset. You can imagine users saying: ‘I didn’t realize I’d been playing that game so much…’"

AE: I really like this idea because as appealing as parental control is, parental involvement is better. Sure, simply rendering a console unable to play nastier games is a welcome feature, but it still allows them to remain disconnected and oblivious to what their children are actually doing. Little Timmy may not be able to play Blood Soaked Chainsaw Succubi From Hell anymore but you also don’t want him playing eight straight hours of Super Mario Galaxy either, when he should be doing his homework.

-Reporting from San Diego, GP Correspondent Andrew Eisen’s time spent of GamePolitics is being monitored closely


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  1. 0
    L. Grant says:

    I like this idea, but it falls short of what is really needed. I have two kids who play. The timer only tells me a TOTAL of how much of has been played. So I need to have individual timers for the kids. Which means I end up using kitchen timers and not using the “player usage”. I need an indivudal login to keep track of indivual time usage.

  2. 0
    john says:

    Having a history of playing time is fine, but when you don’t afford the user the opportunity to delete this information even though parental controls you are restricting the consumers rights to control what they buy. Consumer may simply feel that having this feature is a waste of space and prefer that it not be turned on or that old saves be deleted. The point is the consumer should have complete control over the console within only the restraints of law, if he wishes to add additional moral constraints that is not to be legislated by the company just as morals are not legislated in government.

  3. 0
    Kane says:

    If anyone else here detests the parental control time limiting crap, and your mom or dad get to it first, just always leave your Wii and the game on. They’ll never know if you’re playing or not :)

  4. 0
    Sirusjr ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    i laugh at the prospect of gaming destroying social life because that would be assuming they have a social life to begin with. Social life is so overrated that I’d rather have my kid sitting at home all day gaming when he isnt doing his hw.

  5. 0
    CSP says:

    In a rational world, this would be the end of it; with tools like this now available, parents have absolutely no one to blame but themselves for the content their children are exposed to (not that sufficient tools – i.e. basic parenting skills – weren’t available before as the solution for the vast majority of cases, but now that all the work of parenting is literally being done for them, they really have no more excuses).

    But, alas, this isn’t a rational world – or at least not a rational country.

  6. 0
    Dedre ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “While I do agree that it will be a good way for parents to monitor how long their children played, I also agree that some parents will ignore the features and continue to whine that video game makers aren’t doing enough to protect the kids.

    Somehow, I expect next-gen to get worse with parental complaints, even with these features. “

    Not that it’s an ultimate fail-safe or anything, but also keep in mind, that as the media of video-games evolve from generation to generation, you’ll run into more parents that are more and more video game savvy (SP?).

    I mean, look at it currently, almost all this sensationalism is cause by 40+ year olds who never were kids who enjoyed video games, and they can’t wrap their mind around video games as anything other than “children’s toys”; much like how Anime shocked many conservatives because there are all walks of anime (action, drama, porn, etc etc).

    Not that I’m right or it’s a nuke-bomb to the arguement, just adding a sub-element to think about.

  7. 0
    Kyle Ryback says:

    Does anyone know where I can find a copy of that Succubi game? 😛

    Seriously, right on for Nintendo. It’s already been established as the console of choice for younger players, and having a feature like this just encourages their parents to actually get involved in their child’s gaming habits, instead of ignoring the problem or overreacting and banning games entirely.

  8. 0
    Siftr says:

    I can see one problem with this. Parents KNOWING that their kid plays after the adult has gone to sleep, kid playing after parent has told kid not to play, and then parent ignorance still blaming game.

    The main thing here is that there are some parents who won’t even care about this function.

  9. 0
    hayabusa75 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I can just see the sequel now. NAKED Blood-Soaked Chainsaw Succubi From Hell! It focuses on a niche market, but I think it’ll do well.

  10. 0
    Kharne ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    On paper? It sounds like a wonderfully useful feature. Hell, *I’d* like to see a history of what I’m playing, I’d be curious as to what the results are. So yeah, this is nice.

    In practice? I’d hate to say this but: Parent’s don’t even check the ratings to begin with and honestly, what’s easier than checking the back of the frelling box? It doesn’t get any more ‘ease of use’ than that, and thry still won’t bother, so I have to wonder if this feature will be seeing much parental use.

  11. 0
    kurisu7885 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ beemoh

    Yes, the willfull ignorance. Parents apparently expect parental controls to work on their own, activate on their own, and like, magically sendm essages to their cellphone so they’ll know what ahppened in stead of puttign down the phoen and interupting their call.

  12. 0
    Dale12376 says:

    What if you just forget to turn it off? then this thing would be totaly corrupt. Like your playing it and then you have to go somewhere, and the stats are corrupted.

  13. 0
    beemoh ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yeah, I think I mentioned this quite early in GP’s life- parents aren’t going to pay attention to it, then accuse it of ‘not working’, or if they do, they’ll go down the give-an-inch-and-take-a-mile route and once it’s put the idea of looking at the time spent playing games complain that it doesn’t do enough, so that next generation we get worse controls and so on, down that old slippery slope.

    While I’m up for the industry working with The Concerned, I think this all-format, hands-off surveilanceware is a little too much of a bend-over concession.


  14. 0
    pixelante_ninja ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    As long as this doesn’t turn Big Brother-ish it seems like a really good and helpful device, both for the parent and people like me who need to watch how much time sinks into their games.

  15. 0
    Thefremen says:

    Well I agree with KN when it comes to that Succubi thing. This seems really easy and an intelligent thing to do, which is why I think David Walsh and others will be very critical (+2 crits at least) and accuse Nintendo of faking it to placate parents while sticking to the agenda of making grotesque ultra violence accessable to children.

    I would have done the parents bitching about having to be parents, but it’s been done to death here….thinking out loud….

    “How dare Nintendo allow parents to know what their children are doing and when and how much! How the hell can I continue to practice law and eliminate every trace of personal responsibility with these whackos doing what they’re doing? I’m going to sue Nintendo for this attack on my proffession!” -Jack Thompson

  16. 0
    Mad_Scientist ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    One thing about the fact that you can’t delete/reset the play history: what about used consoles? I imagine some people would be hesitant about selling a console if they knew every game they ever played would be recorded on it. I’m sure any personal info could be removed so that the play history would be anonymous, but I think some people would be still hesitant.

  17. 0
    Me 14 says:

    well the play history will defently give parents more power over what children playand it will get them active, but Jack thompson will make elmo’s adventure playable (sarcasticly) that game is even conterverial too it makes physco paths out of children. ps I can heardly read the fourms the print is so tiny

  18. 0
    Andrew Eisen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Matthew and Terminator44,

    Thank you for your interest in Blood Soaked Chainsaw Succubi From Hell. I hope the following clears up any confusion or misgivings you may have regarding the title:

    -Both the succubi and the chainsaws are soaked with blood.
    -Yes, succubi are indeed demons. However, demons are not necessarily always from Hell. Why, I know several from New Jersey.
    -The title was chosen for marketability and space considerations. If you’re not a fan of the title, please contact the publisher.

    Andrew Eisen

  19. 0
    Terminator44 says:


    Yeah, the wording for that title is awful. Also, succubi are demons, and demons are from hell, so we don’t really need the “from Hell” part.

    I swear, if I ever have kids, I will NEVER let them play a game with such poor grammer.

  20. 0
    xwaix says:

    ^I mean with regards to players keeping track of their own time played, of course. Personally I think it’s a great tool for parents, and hopefully a lot of parents will use it.

  21. 0
    xwaix says:

    “Uh oh, while this will work for many, does anyone not see that there will be many others who will use this as a ’stat’ and game longer and harder than before. Something tells me this can lead to the same type of deaths we’ve been reading about with MMO’s.”

    Most games already keep track of time played, so I don’t think this will change anything.

  22. 0
    Andrew Eisen ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Congratulations parents of the world! You now have ways to track and influence your children’s gaming habits. Don’t worry if you’re not technically savvy for Nintendo’s got you covered. Well known for its ease-of-use products, all you have to do is care.

    Andrew Eisen

  23. 0
    Blitz Fitness ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Ok, I just thought of a way to be sarcastic about this that makes a little more sense than my original post.

    Headline: “Wii feature not enough” says local parents group

    Story: Despite efforts made by long-time videogame creators, Nintendo Co., to add parental control and advisory features to it’s latest home console, the Nintendo Wii, many parent and game activists have argued that this measure is simply not enough.

    The feature in question is a timesheet of sorts that is meant to log the time a child will play a given game for. Nintendo proposed that parents will be able to utilize this time sheet in order to determine if their child spends too much time playing with this toy rather than using time constructively, such as studying or engaging in physical activities outddoors.

    However, many have pointed out that this feature is incomplete, and therefore useless. The Unfit Parents Association (UPS) recently combined efforts with the Family Entertainment Design and Creation Service (FedAcs) in order to send a proposal to Nintendo of America, Inc. The proposal demands that the time printout not only log how long their child has played the system, but to also identify how much time is too much time as well as what the proper punishment would be.

    The Department of Human Law (DHL) has also raised an issue of enforcement of such regulatory behavior, saying “There just aren’t enough law enforcement personnel available to keep up a constant check on the videogame playing habits of kids in our nation.” The spokesman for DHL admitted that either graduation restrictions of police acadmies across the country will need to be eased or “We’ll just have to take these consoles away in order to avoid any other possible time law infractions.”

    John Thompson, a videogame expert and recent cohort of the Useless Smut and Pornography Stoppers (USPS), has come out attacking Nintendo’s recent technology pointing out that which we’ve all feared. “In order for the machine to even alert parent’s that their child is playing these disgusting things too long, the violent and pornographic message will have already seeped into their frontal lobes”. Thompson added, “Until this usurpous action by Rockstar and TakeTwo is rectified and a true parental control system is passed into law, parent’s the world over are in extreme danger when it comes time to tell little Billy that game time is over.”

    A spokesperson from Nintendo was reached for comment on this recent uprising, however, due to him speaking Japanese, we assume that it was nothing but gibberish. One researcher from the American Psychological Association was asked how they feel regarding this recent attempt by United States videogame publishers to ignore the law of the ESRB. The unnamed researcher responded “My god, people! It was one freakin’ study!”

  24. 0
    Howell2751 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I like this idea. Very good idea this is. I can see it being used for fun and bragging rights (depending on the game) and as a parental control.

    The bragging rights thing, i fear will be more of its use for gamers to say “ha i played (insert RPG name here) for 45 hours” or “I beat Super Metroid in 1 hour”(exageration on the super metroid, I would find that physically impossible)

    More than likely the parental control feature of it will most likely be used by parents that do keep an eye on their kids and actually parent them. The others will simply keep standing by idle, or keep forcing the government to do something even though they have EVERY SINGLE TOOL AT THEIR DISPOSAL ALREADY. The stuff in caps just boggles my mind X_X. The tools are right in front of them and they refuse to pick them up and use them.

  25. 0
    Matthew ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    One important question remains: Are the chainsaws soaked in blood, or the succubi? Because that sort of detail will really affect the fanfiction. If you don’t clarify, then there’ll be wars splitting the fandom into LiveJournal communities []bloodychainsaws and []moist_succubi_fic. There’ll be usericons and everything.

  26. 0
    udx ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    While I do agree that it will be a good way for parents to monitor how long their children played, I also agree that some parents will ignore the features and continue to whine that video game makers aren’t doing enough to protect the kids.

    Somehow, I expect next-gen to get worse with parental complaints, even with these features.

  27. 0
    Foton says:

    I think this is a great Idea. It forces parents to be involved in thier kids gaming habits. Thus pay closer attention to the games they play and how long they play them. So that parents can teach healthy gaming habits. And the kids don’t become so absorbed in them that the rest of their school and social lives don’t suffer. Not to mention this is the first I’ve heard of Parental controls based on ESRB ratings. Moves like this is what the industry needs to place a little bit more of a focus on if they wanna be left alone about things like GTA.

    Foton Webmaster

  28. 0
    Dachande says:

    @kurisu7885, or anyone else who’s critical of this because they don’t this it will work –

    If something is easily accessible and aggressively marketed, it will be used. I suggest that, for something as simple and non-invasive as this, we give it our full support as a gaming community.

    The gaming industry right now is trying to prove that it can effectively regulate itself without legislation. Would you prefer that they (the gaming industry) do nothing, so that there’s absolutely no evidence that they’re trying to solve the problem on their own? If you’re honestly going to complain and put down efforts that will help their self-regulation argument, then please propose to me a better solution.

    And, we keep in mind, saying “parents should just do their job and parent” isn’t going to solve our current situation.

  29. 0
    SilverStar says:

    Keep in mind, people already use things like Xfire to keep track of their total playtime for their games. They even post it in their sigs in forums, for other people to eye and see what they’ve been playing lately and what they’ve spent the most time on, in total.

    That’s more or less what this will be like for most people, just with additional parental controls built into it.

  30. 0
    Quad9Damage ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The Usage Tracker is interesting, but really nothing new when it comes to gamers. Most games keep track of total playtime already, which can be taken as either as a sign that the game has lasting value (RPGs like Dragon Quest VIII ) or that you’re moving too slow (trying to beat old ones like Super Metroid and Resident Evil under 3 hours).

    I say it’s more useful for parents, provided they actually give a damn about what their kids are doing in the first place.

  31. 0
    Blitz Fitness ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I was attempting to be sarcastic and sound like an ‘expert’ debating this new piece of devil technology. However, I can see now it didn’t do it’s job.

  32. 0
    Terminator44 says:

    Reminds me of a Mad magaizine article about the 100 worst things about gaming.

    “Consoles that tell your parents how many hours you’ve spent gaming instead of on your studies.”

  33. 0
    noman says:

    Great, another feature that will be completely ignored because its to hard. Seriously though, that is a very good idea never to be used by “concerned” parents. I doubt this will lead to more deaths though, it would probably be something that comes up if their is no game in the console, like the PS2 and Gamecube.

  34. 0
    Yukimura sanada ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    it’s a start, though I do admit I have doubt about weather this will have any real value at the present time. You all know my feeling on the matter. While things like this are important for the industry, it has no impact with the current rush of lies and deciet being spread. it need to change, and sadly, I feel that using such things as Legal action may be needed to get the news media to stop it’s fear mongering actions and to get politicans to stop agrandzing, and have actual discussion about the issue. Oh well, any progress is good.

    But, It still is not enough!

  35. 0
    hayabusa75 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I can’t see anyone using that feature as a stat tracker. There has to be some kind of reward system in place for that to occur, whether it’s substantial (new item, costume, etc.) or insubstantial (bragging rights, old-school putting in your initials). I doubt having the highest playtime in your neighborhood would impress anybody.

  36. 0
    SilverStar says:

    Also, Konrad, that’s something that will be an optional feature. Once a year or so, the gameplay history of games can be uploaded to developers(on an opt-in basis) to show not just which games are selling best, but which ones have real replayability, and among which groups(will probably be linked to profiles, through the remote and Mii features).

  37. 0
    SilverStar says:

    I actually think this will be a cool idea. As a parental control feature, I don’t see how well it’ll stack up unless parents actually get interested in the system and put it to use, but for my own tracking I think it’ll be fun. See what games I’ve played, how long I’ve played them.. if I could put some sort of note by each game title to go with the time, it’d mean I could also keep track of which games I’ve beaten and don’t have to worry about it again. :)

  38. 0
    konrad_arflane ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hmmm. It doesn’t sound too bad as a parenting tool (though the kids will likely hate it), even if I think it undermines the mutual trust that is also an important part of the parent-child relationship.

    But what happens if someone figures out a way to tap into the Play History for a significant part of the Wii user base for market research purposes?

  39. 0
    kurisu7885 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    As cool as this may be, it won’t do a lick of good. Many people never read the console manual, andj ust plug and play, so odds are no one will even know this feature exists, like the parental controls on the Xbox. I found it when I was pokin around the menu, and my brother didn’t even know about it untill I told him, so I doubt this till truly solve anything

    @ Hayabusa
    And alot of the time a kid did brag about that other kids would make fun of him for it, since as far as I know soem still associate gamign with nerds.

    @ konrad
    A legit concern, but giving how Nintendo is, it won’t be the same as putting Spyware on a computer to track what you do online.

  40. 0
    Scoops says:

    Yeah, I don’t see this as anything but a positive. I feel it strikes a nice balance between flat-out prevention (based on ratings) and good parenting tools. As it says, now you’ll know if your kid sneaks downstairs to game. And even if he does, he won’t be able to fire up your copy of Resident Evil 5.

    I can see how “I played for xx hours” could possibly be a bragging thing, but when I was kid, it wasn’t how long you played – it was how far into the game you were that was important.

    “I’ve been playing Best Game Ever for 100 hours!”
    ‘How far into the game are you?’
    “Level 2…”

    Speed was also big, as it could also be judged to be a measure of skill (and gain bragging rights). Play time would be too easy to “cheat” with. For example, if my PS2 tracked time, you’d think I’d been obsessed with Gran Turismo 4 this week. In fact, I last played it on Sunday and then left the PS2 on til today.

  41. 0
    Cecil475 says:

    Parent: NO!! I don’t accept this feature of tracking my child’s playing time! It means thet I actually have to be a PARENT! Besides, video game laws are fun. If anyone is going to save our children then it’s the goverment.

    – Warren Lewis

  42. 0
    Blitz Fitness ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Uh oh, while this will work for many, does anyone not see that there will be many others who will use this as a ‘stat’ and game longer and harder than before. Something tells me this can lead to the same type of deaths we’ve been reading about with MMO’s.

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