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The agitated gamer, and other mildly amusing anecdotes

… It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

That was what the low-polygon professor from Brain Age told me when I, on a fine day, thought I’d do some elementary math after two months of… doing something else.

Brain Age is one oddity. Last weekend I brought my Nintendo DS Lite home for the first time (seven months after I bought it), my younger sisters were naturally attracted to its ‘weird controls’, but my parents were wary – Both of them are primary school teachers for about 25 years now, and as far as primary school education goes, games and television are bad for children.

I wasn’t too surprised when I saw my mum hogging the DS a few days later, trying to break my record for 100x Calculations on Brain Age (1 minute, 1 second). I said nothing, and just smiled. I don’t think Brain Age or the DS would break their “Games are bad for children” mindset, though I suppose they’ll be referring to the DS as ‘the GameBoy with the maths game.’

It always happens – The general public merely takes the lowest common denominator and uses it as a norm. That’s why any instant noodle here is called ‘Maggi’, any chocolate drink is ‘Milo’, any image editing program is ‘Photoshop’. I didn’t do any tedious research, but here are the five media stereotypes that currently irk me the most. And in no particular order (but it just sounds more exciting when done in countdown):

#5 The conspiring friends

This one’s pretty common, and I’m sure that I’m not the first one to talk about it. Here’s the scenario: Little Jimmy was a quiet little boy, until his ‘friends’ introduce him to cigarettes, Ecstasy, pornography, video games or whatever is the current social ill. Little Jimmy got himself addicted to said vice, and his personal and social life slowly crumbles into a mess. A tearful confession full of regret ends the message with a powerful note.

Witness the power of testimony. It’s always “I drank and drove and lost both my legs”, never “My friends got me into smoking and we all got lung cancer.” What happened to said victim’s so-called friends? They’re pretty much never heard of again once the protagonist falls far enough. Sometimes you’d think if ‘the rest’ are conspiring against the poor guy.

The influence of testimony doesn’t stop here. Remember your visiting aunt, who told you that sleeping after 11pm will give you prostate cancer, or the friend who is sure that Sonic will be in Super Smash Brothers Brawl because he read it in a forum thread started by this guy whose uncle works at Nintendo (Personally, I sure hope Sonic will be in SSBB). It doesn’t matter that radiation from microwave oven would not cause cancer even when there’s a scientific explanation behind it, to some people radiation is radiation. It’s just so convenient to get ‘facts’ from friends, and when something bad happens it’s always their fault.

Which would lead me to my next point…

#4 The ‘Brand X’

My country, Malaysia, is a country that likes superlatives. Everything has to be the ‘biggest’, ‘fastest’, ‘first’. True story: There’s this banner in front of my apartment complex, proudly advertising a fishing competition with ‘the highest prize money in the country’. Imagine winning twelve thousand ringgit (That’s about US$3,500) in a fishing competition.

With that out of our way, it’s not hard to think of an advertising plan in Malaysia: you just have to compare it with something else, and somehow show it’s better. That brings us to the ‘Brand X’.

Sample TV commercial: A guy in a lab coat interviews this young woman. “I used to have dandruff problems”, says the woman, smiling, as she twirls her finger in her hair, “but after using [name of shampoo being advertised], my hair is shiny silky smooth!” Obviously, said brand of shampoo is better than ‘the others’ because ‘the other shampoos’ don’t solve her dandruff problem.

Some advertisements take it further by introducing the ‘Brand X’, the perpetually unnamed victim of inane advertising campaigns. Invoking the law of typicality, as long as something is better than something else of its league, it’s better than any other item of its kind by inference. This brand of detergent washes away grease stains better than ‘Brand X’? ‘Brand X’ might as well be a bucket of paint.

#3 The ‘and more’

…Because, well, the supposedly main attraction just isn’t enough.

Pardon me for naming names here, but I’ve been long irritated by The Chicken Rice Shop‘s tagline. “Chicken Rice… and More” – it doesn’t take half a brain to think of that. Imagine a world of and-mores:

KFC – Fried Chicken… and More!

Dell – Computers… and More!

EA – Challenge Everything… and More!

See, even I can do it.

The and-more tagline is another instance of the law of typicality in effect. You don’t have to love chicken rice, just come on in and you might find something you like because, you know, we call ourselves ‘The Chicken Rice Shop’ but we don’t want people to think that we sell only chicken rice.

I have a suggestion. Instead of ‘and more’, people should use ‘and stuff’, or even ‘and blah’. “KFC – Fried Chicken… and blah.”

#2 The thieving woman

The man wakes up in the morning, bleary-eyed. He shambles to the kitchen counter to make some coffee. The coffee done. With a satisfied smile he puts his lips close to the coffee…

And his wife pops out of nowhere and takes the cup away from him. The woman happily walks away with her loot while the man is clearly disappointed.

And Nescafé isn’t’ the first commercial that’s doing it. Because you know, a happy family is composed of a man that tries to get himself a treat, and a thieving woman.

#1 The Agitated gamer

I didn’t have much to say on the last point because I’m saving it for this one. Technically both fall under the same category – annoying stereotypes – though the agitated gamer grazes a raw nerve whenever I see a ‘gamer’ on television, butt-jumping up and down on his couch, jerking the wired controller with a force enough to throttle a child, frantically pressing the shoulder buttons without any apparent pattern.

Because people can’t keep their elbows still while playing a game on his favorite console (Typically a Playstation). Because these people have this crazed look in their eyes when gaming. Because games now still show “YOU WIN!” in Arial when you clear it. Because being able to tolerate your thieving woman makes you a real man. Because people actually slip on banana peels in real life.

These are simply tools to get the message across easily. Guy bouncing in chair = gamer. Girl runs out of house after a quarrel with dad = car accident. It’s like how the black guy or the guys in the red shirts always die first. I couldn’t care less about the others, but the agitated gamer stereotype keeps gaming at an immature, ADHD-rife level. That’s why DS-es will always be fancy GameBoys to my mother. First person shooters will be murder simulators to Jack Thompson. And gaming, in general, will be bad for kids.

I told my mum that the fancy GameBoy is actually a DS. Now she thinks that it’s a ‘PS’ (Playstation). Oh well…

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June 12, 2007 - Posted by | Games, Gaming, Malaysia, Quasr Concept

2 Comments »

  1. […] The agitated gamer and other mildly amusing anecdotes (Some better written article) […]

    Pingback by A little little me in hatchling games « Hatchlings Games | June 14, 2007 | Reply

  2. […] The agitated gamer and other mildly amusing anecdotes […]

    Pingback by Parents Just Tend to Blame It On Computer Games « Hatchlings Games | June 21, 2007 | Reply


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