Handheld Game Systems: All Grown Up

Handheld Game Systems: All Grown Up

Ranee R Martin EC 289-301 Essay #1 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.

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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 look of surprise on the man’s face. It shows graphics on the 3DS as being far superior. This game system also plays in 3D without the use of glasses, causing the player to be more a part of the game. What type of person might play these completely different games? As mentioned, the Game Boy ad is clearly targeted at a younger crowd.

They are totally dependent on their parents for their livelihood and their games. Of course, we know that many parents buy what their children want. In the Game Boy ad, the child appears to be sitting playing the game. He doesn’t show us a feeling of excitement with the game, just interest. It would seem that the graphics are simplistic and does not require much mastery to get through it. That is why it is of more interest to a child than to an adult. The 3DS ad is much different. The man seems to be standing, a posture of power.

He is surprised by the fire breathing dragon and does not intend to be beaten by it. The ad copy invites us to, “Merge the real world with the game world with augmented reality. ” It claims, “Less virtual, more reality. ” In fact, the players’ reality is in the virtual world. The systems have become more compact and more powerful as have the games. As far as graphics go, the 3DS system has improved over the Game Boy by leaps and bound. The 3DS ad shows someone who is his own man, capable of playing a more complicated game. He decides for himself what games he will play and he has chosen the Nintendo 3DS.

So as we can see, handheld gaming has changed over the last twenty years. The systems have become more compact and more powerful as have the games. The graphics themselves in the 3DS show a level of sophistication and realism only hinted at in the earlier systems. Both ads do a good job of making their product attractive to their target audience as do they make us believe that we will be happier if we have their product. The manufacturer made us feel that we will be unique and have a good experience if we own the latest Nintendo gaming system.


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