Handheld Game Systems; All Grown Up
Video gaming has become an American obsession. At one time the marketers of video games targeted a younger demographic of boys. Today’s video game advertising focuses on those same boys. The difference is those boys have gotten older. There are as many older teenagers and young adults playing video games as there are of the younger set. There is also a big difference in the systems and in the games. The improvements are nothing less than amazing. Two contrasting advertisements will demonstrate how much the Nintendo handheld gaming systems and our culture have changed over the last twenty years.
The 1989 Nintendo Game Boy ad catches one’s attention right away by saying, “Just don’t smile when they say you’re grounded,” implying that more fun can be had alone with a game in your room than can be had on the outside. This immediately lets the reader know that the ad is directed at a pre-teen demographic. After all, young adults are not likely to be grounded by their parents. This is also demonstrated by the hands shown holding the Game Boy. Obviously the hands belong to a pre-teen. We also notice that there is both a Game Boy and a Super Nintendo in the room. There are five games for each system on the desk along with a television. The ad text invites the player to “explore demon filled fortresses, fight off dinosaur invaders, and explore a world of magic.” It is not a horrible punishment to be banished to the child’s room when he has such an interesting and entertaining way to pass the time.
In contrast, the ad for the Nintendo 3DS shows a mature, African American man playing a handheld game system. He is clearly mesmerized by the experience. In one corner there is a dragon spewing fire through the screen toward the man. Smoke from the fire is blowing by the man’s face. This appears to be a completely different experience than the Game Boy. There is a...