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