The 90s are bad
Can you believe this 3Dfx ad from the 90s recently unearthed online by Felipe Pepe? In the era of “attitude” (or just ‘tude), 3Dfx had the gall to suggest all men, the fairer sex not graced with breasts, are all casual console babies. “We only want women buying our products,” 3Dfx says. No wonder the company went bankrupt in less than a decade, various IP rights scavenged by Nvidia. That’s alienating half your audience — and men have a not insignificant buying power, though they do tend to prefer consoles.
Ah-hah-haha. Maybe 3Dfx was making a different implication.
Here: if you think it is funny (or “just harmless fun,” “just a joke,” etc), ask yourself, “why?” Is it funny because it’s true, because it is anchored in common, relatable human experience like a man getting hit in the nuts by a football? No. Plenty of old men who owned bars played NES because they liked golf games, plenty of dweebs played PC games.
Now, is it “funny” because you’re the target audience? Because this advertisement pats you, personally, on the back like the Marlboro man giving you a firm handshake telling you, “smoke up”? Because it makes you, personally, feel warmly and convinces you that the inherently limited lens through which you see the world is correct and good? Because it provides not only confirmation bias, but it maybe offers a novel, preferable perspective (Hmmm, yeah, I am cooler than those other gamers).
Where is the objective humor? How is this joke good or funny? Not to harp, but I expect a lot of hand waving away on this point in particlar. Here: let’s make this ad about something you don’t care about. “There are two kinds of teachers in this world. Those who don’t use Expo dry erase markers. And those who’ve actually seen breasts.” Still funny?
I know I rally against advertising a lot, and mostly that affords “who cares?” but advertising is important as a cultural artifact reflecting hegemonic social norms. Just think about all those “Doctors recommend …” cigarette ads. Or a father and son playing Battleship while the mother and daughter do dishes in the background (fun for the whole family!).
Heck, just recently, EA Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore suggesting that DICE’s Battlefront would be a sales knock out because, “It’s a game that Mom and Dad understand — and Dad secretly wants to play along with.” I mean, my dad certainly never gave a fuck about Star Wars, but I watched the original three films with my mom plenty.
These kinds of suggestions are more learned than earned. Perpetuated when gone unchallenged. I’m here at gamescom 2015, by all rights the world’s biggest (and smelliest) video game convention, and it is filthy with women. Not wives and moms (all the 12-year-olds I’ve trampled trying to get to appointments have been unsupervised, thank god) dragged along begrudgingly, but fans.
Please don’t buy into marketing that says you’re good and special for liking video games (same goes for trash books like Ready Player One), let alone marketing that says you’re better than other video game players because you buy their products instead. Remember that “Nintendon’t” is funny because it is petty and wrong. Even the irony by which “PC master race” is purportedly undone grates with genuine usage for every snide comment about Batman: Arkham Knight.
I’mmah go write some more stuff about all the games I’ve been playing this week so I can go find schnitzel later thanks all love you, in the meantime go enjoy those fucked up PlayStation 2 ads and the David Lynch PS2 commercial where a duck in a suit says hi to a confused man.