Gamer Buy Curious?

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posted 4/23/2007 by The GN Staff
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Randy Kalista – Staff Writer
If you're attempting to lead a horse to gaming's milky fountain of youth (pardon the mixed metaphor) you can't force them to drink here either -- but you might be able to convince them of just how thirsty they really are. Even if they don't know it. Debating a non-gamer about what they're gaining with video games could be a tough sell. But piquing their interest about what they're missing appeals to every human being's natural sense of curiosity -- not to mention their inherent greed. Subversively proving that there's a certain lack in their life is one devious strategy you may employ. This propaganda blitz is actually the brilliance behind the "Got Milk?" ad campaign -- a campaign that began in 1993, for goodness' sake -- whose residual effects are felt even today (bumper stickers are still being printed: "Got This?" "Got That?" Fill in the blank. You still see them everywhere).

So with Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, you are preying on a non-gamer's sense of lost youth. Even for a non-gamer that has everything, they certainly can't have their childhood back. Hey, if Cher can't figure out how to turn back time, then we're all doomed to such a fate. The Original Star Wars end of this hook digs into a sci-fi legacy that is unmatched throughout every Hollywood generation since its inception in 1977 -- unmatched even by itself with its New Trilogy brethren (especially by its New Trilogy brethren). And the Lego end of this hook digs into every aging person's eventual acceptance of their own escalating technophobia. As information and technology tears by us at ear-bleeding velocities -- even those of us that have grown up surrounded by exponential technological advances -- Legos are a visual and metaphorical return to the very building blocks of imagination. Nothing is simpler, yet more promising and unpredictable, than a pile of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene blocks.  Lego Star Wars II captures nostalgia and naivete in one fell swoop of a light saber.

Or you can furrow your non-gamer's brow by informing them of what 8 million people around the world will corroborate on: That your friend's tedious, non-gamer existence is missing out on the most significant gaming revolution since the invention of video games -- online video games. Yadda yadda MUDs did it first yadda yadda. But you and I both know what we're talking about here. We're talking about Massively Multiplayer Online Games. We're talking about World of Warcraft. And we're looking at nothing short of the largest social experiment conducted on the planet today -- an experiment that millions of people are automatically debiting their credit cards to experience.

But for all the talk of "immersion" in video games, most attempts resign to failure or succumb to the limitations of the medium. Move here, shoot this. Open this, kill that. Most games evoke no more emotion out of us than a telegraphed stab at our desensitized id, hoping to get a short-lived gush out of our adrenal glands. Sure, you control more of the camera and pacing in a video game than in, say, Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men, but no game has touched on the palpable energy and cinematic immersion of those continuous, seven-minute long takes like Half Life 2 has. (Although, a more appropriate comparison would be the other way around, since Half Life 2 was prospering on store shelves for over two years before Cuarón's release.) Back in the early 90's, back when we thought the only games that would exist by 2007 would be virtual reality games, Half Life 2 comes closest to what we thought we'd all be playing by the 21st century. By placing us smack dab in the middle of every cinematic sequence, we're given a heady dosage of what "being there" should feel like in a video game.

Still, the shrewdest of non-gamers may require an even greater jolt of shock therapy. They may not yield to merely a feeling (or at least a concept) of immersion. They may be seeking an experience that will move them. An experience that will leave them a little shaken, if not a little stirred as well. They not only want to get inside of the game, they want the game to get inside of them. This is when you put that hardhearted non-gaming atheist into the hands of possessed serial killer, Lucas Kane. This is when you let Indigo Prophecy sear a slow-burning realization into your friend's crispy, moderate, non-gaming mind. This is the game that will, within two minutes, have them asking, "My God, what have I done?"

Then you can squeal in delight as your non-gaming friend comes to the painful realization that something truly has been missing from their life. That there has been a certain lack -- unbeknownst to them, the poor dear -- that will now grow into Little Shop of Horror proportions. And you, the one that provided that first glass of wholesome, homogenized, non-organic milk, can rest assured knowing exactly how
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