We all know how popular driving and war games are on platforms such as the Nintendo DS, but there is an increasing demand for games that improve thought processes and observation skills.
A whole generation of people who have seen programmes such as Law and Order or CSI and who fancy using their wits in complicated cases have been hooked by the game Phoenix Wright.
The premise of the game is that you play the role of Phoenix, a rookie lawyer who must investigate various cases, interviewing suspects and witnesses before presenting the case in a court of law. He defends his client and hopefully solves the mystery. Such has been the popularity of the game that there have been four sequels so far, as well as a film adaptation, Gyakuten Saiban, which was released in Japanese theatres in February 2012. The first game allows the player to guide Phoenix through his first solo trial, under the watchful eye of his boss, Mia Fey. Subsequent games introduce new characters, each with their own back story.
The Game’s Popularity
The game has received mostly favourable reviews and although it reflects Japanese courtroom proceedings, has been popular worldwide. It has been named as one of the most memorable games of the last decade, due to its characters and strangely addictive gameplay. And such was the demand when it first hit American shores that stores quickly ran out of stock, with every copy being sold within the first week of release.
I liked this game so much that I almost wanted to sell my Nintendo DS and study real law, but eventually came to my senses! However, do such games have any influence on people’s real-life decisions? Well, evidence suggests that although the impact of such games is minimal in this sense, they are popular amongst those who are already inclined to enjoy investigative and legal activities. It is mostly adults who play such games and they are generally already settled into a career path, so the likelihood of the game spawning a generation of would-be lawyers is negligible.
A Career in Law?
Of course, these games do simplify and glamorise the legal process and can give a false impression as to what’s expected of a lawyer. In the UK, solicitors generally spend their time dealing with paperwork and interviewing clients. It is barristers who do the majority of the actual presentation in court (although there are some exceptions to this). Law, as a whole, is not an exciting profession, but can provide a great sense of satisfaction when you feel that justice has been achieved for your client. The court process itself is also fairly dull, with some cases taking months to actually reach the trial stage.
So whilst Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney does not give a realistic impression of what a career in law is truly like, it does provide a great cerebral workout that can expand the mind, improve observation skills and provide the player with a great sense of satisfaction when they achieve their goal — helping Phoenix to win his case.