Archive for the Off Topic Category

Happy Spendmass!

Posted in Off Topic, Rants with tags , , on December 10, 2007 by Kit

Atheist unbeliever that I am, I happen to love Christmas. I love getting cards. I love carols. I love lights. I love sweets. I love It’s a Wonderful Life.

But there is one Christmas tradition that fills my heart with cold, seething, murderous rage: Christmas advertising. I am also aware that this is the least original complaint ever. Lucy Van Pelt was right all along. Christmas is a big commercial racket. It is all organized by big eastern syndicates.

But do we have to be so transparent about it? This year, I’ve noticed a subtle increase in the number of ads that carry a specific underlying message: Screw your loved ones, Christmas is a great time to buy shit for yourself. We’re no longer even pretending to believe any of the generosity malarkey that once justified our annual consumptionfest.

Like the toy companies, the video game industry does its level best to provide us with a yearly “must-have” item that will suffer inevitable and well orchestrated “supply shortages.” Christmas is an incredible marketing two-fer for a few lucky video game companies (Nintendo).

  1. Loads of money from poor saps who are essentially required by guilt to buy a pile of useless shit for their (kid/lifemate/whatever).
  2. The added PR boast of being perceived as the hot toy of the season, since nobody can find your sold-out game anywhere. Now you have another guaranteed wave of guilt-fueled post holiday game purchasing by poor saps who failed to buy the love of their (kid/lifemate/whatever) on the first go.

My advice to game buyers this year? Stop putting up with this shit! Of all the industries to shamefully manipulate holiday release dates to maximize profit, the game industry is second only to Hollywood. If it’s not artificial shortages, it’s timing releases to either stack up on the holiday or to just miss it (so that marquee games can soak up the most consumer love).

It’s important to remember that they don’t actually have you over a barrel. There are lots of other ways to spend your money. Or better yet, consider finding some ways to make Christmas a little less about money in the first place.

So many game players are adult men with no kids. We can buy games whenever we want them. Maybe for adults, Christmas should be a time for us to reflect on some intangibles.

The old lady and I don’t buy presents for each other anymore. We bake, watch Christmas movies, listen to Christmas music – the whole shebang. And we each make a little something special in secret to wrap and put under the tree. The only rule is that it can’t be store-bought.

We find that we have a lot more holiday energy. We don’t get sick of carols the way we used to. We don’t feel as cynical about the holidays.

I’m not sure if it’s the lack of shopping, or just the amount of pride I take in assembling something special out of cloth, paper, or sugar. Or maybe it’s all the extra time we get to spend with each other, accomplishing something real and assembling all the other silly little presents that we make for our friends and family.

It’s not that we’re cheap. We’re doing fine. But we’d rather spend our extra money on a vacation, or something that we do together. And if we want a game, book, movie, or even a toy… we just go buy it.

Besides, the games will be cheaper when they go on sale in January.