Nintendo brings Mario Kart and Switch Sports to Japanese nursing homes

Hundreds of Japanese nursing homes will soon incorporate Nintendo Switch Sports and Mario Kart into their regular activities.
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Ever since Nintendo unlocked the broad, casual gaming audience with the Nintendo Wii console, it seems like the company has been on a mission to make its games as approachable as possible to a wide range of people, whether as a public service, an expansion of their install base, or perhaps a bit of both.

Now, the company has partnered with an assisted living company in Japan to bring Nintendo Switch consoles and a variety of games to nursing homes in the country, through scheduled and assisted events.

As spotted by Automaton, Nintendo is teaming up with Gakken Cocofump, which both operates assisted living facilities like nursing homes and other elderly care facilities in Japan. Gakken Cocofump will run intergenerational social events for around 200 of its facilities, which will involve guiding residents through Nintendo Switch games such, as the motion-controlled Nintendo Switch Sports, the cerebral Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training, and the competitive Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

School students will also be brought in to assist and teach their elders about the magic of video games for both entertainment, as well as mental and physical exercise. The program is supported by Kyoto University, which will undertake research for its Department of Healthcare Economics and Quality Management.

The companies reportedly found small-scale trials of the program to be positive, with the majority of participants finding the events fun, and leaving them eager for more.

Nintendo is quoted as saying that the company will “aim to create a future that brings smiles to the faces of everyone, regardless of age, gender, or gaming experience.”

Beyond being an entertainment medium, there’s a lot of scientific research out there which points to the positive benefits video games can have on cognitive function, as well as mental health. Even if Nintendo has a more business-oriented objective with this program, it certainly serves to demystify and foster a broader familiarity with games, in a segment of the population who may have never considered playing games as something that was suitable for them.

And as the world’s populations age, it’s only natural that the generations who did grow up with video games will come to expect them to be a part of everyday recreation and relaxation later in life.

Edmond was the founding managing editor of GamesHub. He was also previously at GameSpot for 13 years, where he was the Australian Editor and an award-winning video producer. You can follow him @EdmondTran