Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Scouting for better thumbs

Tom Taylor, all of 18, dropped out of high school and joined a professional video game league. He's pulling in $250,000 and has product endorsements as well as a "game tutoring business". He says, "I feel like I was born to play video games." Nice job Tom, don't get caught up in the drugs, women and gambling.

Well, this AP story dropped yesterday and was widely picked up by newspapers across the country. This story has, therefore, been deemed to be newsworthy... but why? Is it because a young man is pursuing his dreams? Perhaps it's the amount of money he's making at such a young age?

Let's face it, this story is all about video games and the general perception that the value in playing games is the physical and mental equivalent of Cheetos for Thanksgiving dinner. You could do it and it'd be fun but you're not going to be proud of it. In our society, games are to be outgrown, to gather dust like your old skateboard and replaced in your mind with things like FICA and PPO. If you're passionate about games, you're always tempering your enthusiasm because "they" wouldn't understand.

I hate it. I hate reading stories like this because stories like this perpetuate society's code of conduct. This story reads like a warning label for parents: there's a game league out there looking for your kid, let your kid play video games and he may just make a career out of it. Am I misrepresenting it? Probably but let's assume I'm right.

This needs to change and quite frankly, I don't think it's a content issue. It's not because games are violent or superficial or made for men. If that were the case, we'd have to demote all sports, movies or current books as well. No, what we have here is an image problem. We need to change the look of gamers. Socially inept teenage guys, thank you for your service, we'll take it from here.

So who do we want to represent the industry? What about me? I'm 30. I'm a professional with a master's degree and comfortably middle class. I have a robust appreciation and an above-average consumption of the cultural arts and fine things. When I'm not working, I have a social life. Am I what we need to be the face of gamers? Oh heck no, I'm too dorky looking but you get the point.

I guess what I'm trying to say to my marketing brothers and sisters is that we need to shift the imagery around. Use the guys from the SUV ads, not the Mountain Dew ads. Hey, you know the couch shot, the one from the TV's perspective? Yeah, that one. How about you add some art on the walls and some imported beer on the coffee table? And you know that X Games sponsorship? Drop it, no one pays attention anyways.

Finally, you know that high school dropout that you just sponsored? Yeah, bad idea.

via ABC News

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