I’ve been playing video games for over 20 years (man, that sounds bad). It used to be a fairly straight forward transaction: you played the video game, beat it, and then moved on. But lately I’ve noticed a disturbing trend.
Video games now have decided to keep you playing for as long as possible. They achieve this by applying a reward system. The more you play, the more rewards you obtain. When you consider that many video games are played on mobile devices these days, and employ the use of “micro transactions” (they call it micro so you don’t pay attention to how much money you end up spending over time) and you can see the problem this can present. Video games have always played on humanity’s addictive nature, but things have turned more sinister.
A deleted scene from the movie Indie Game does an excellent job of describing the phenomena as Abusive Video Game Manipulation. I have to admit that I’ve fallen victim to these tactics. (I play the game you see up there. I know, I know).
I don’t have a problem with a good Troll. It can be a great opportunity to laugh at myself, or some construct of our society. But there is a line that should not be cross, which unfortunately is being overstepped with every increasing frequency.
Look no further than this commercial for Staples:
Growing up, I used to cringe every time this commercial would run. Not just because it signified to close of yet another summer, but it was flat out wrong.
How they gonna show this dad sashaying down the store aisle just because he’s buying back to school supplies? Look at how dejected his children are!!!
I was incredulous. As an adolescent, my mind couldn’t process these emotions. The fact that someone thought it was cool to employ a popular Christmas song to express the joy parents felt when sending their children back to school was utter sacrilege. I didn’t care how cleaver or ironic Staples brass thought it was, a line had been crossed. Weren’t adults supposed to be, you know, adults about things? It was bad enough most children across the land (I say most because i suspect some students loved school and were eager to return) were unenthusiastic about spending 7-hours a day, 9-months out of the year in the same building. But now, someone was piking fun at us whilst we suffered.
Little did I know Staples had opened up a Pandora’s box, that would the blueprint for pretty much every “edgy” or “in your face” marketing campaign to come after this.