You may know that Nintendo is marketing its DS lite handheld gaming system to women. You may have seen the ads featuring America Ferrera or Carrie Underwood. We are a vast, untapped demographic, apparently. So one way they are trying to entice us women into gaming is by having young hip urban women become “brand enthusiasts.” This means they get a free DS and they get to invite all their young hip urban female friends to a party.
I am not a “brand enthusiast” for Nintendo, but my friend Marisa over at Apartment 2024 and Fork You is. The Nintendo people picked her as one of several local women bloggers for their current strategy. She invited me as one of her hip young urban female friends (it’s OK, you can laugh) to a “Girlfriend’s Guide to Gaming” party, which was held last Friday in a rented loft in an older part of the city. Free parking was provided.
There was wine, and cheese, and fruit, and other more complicated hors d’oeuvres. There were four sectional sofas each arranged around a coffee table with a particular theme to its decor. Each coffee table also had a little pile of black DS lite game systems. After getting a charm bracelet from one of the Nintendo employees (young women dressed in black and all playing pink DS lite systems) and some wine and some little bits of this or that to try, I sat down next to someone I recognized from Marisa’s birthday party. After some chatting, we picked up the DS’s and learned how to play Nintendogs with help from one of the young women in black. First: how do you turn it on? Then, what do you do?
I played with “Spotty” the dalmation. This was pretty dull. Virtual pets are not my cup of tea. Buzz is much more fun, plus my husband converses with Buzz often, which is very entertaining as well. So far, I was not sold. I folded up the game and held out my wrist for the charm: a dog dish with a bone in it.
The next game I tried was MarioKart. Still not fun, a little stressful, and I could see how one’s thumbs could be in a lot of pain in very short order. It’s a racing game, and you play against a lot of little characters who I have no interest in, since I have no interest in any Mario-related games. I know he’s a plumber, but beyond that I have no idea. Charm for MarioKart: a black-and-white checked heart.
The third sofa I tried featured the game BrainAge 2. This game tests you to tell you how old your brain is, based on the research of some Japanese brain researcher. I had the youngest Brain Age in the room, and on a Friday night! After testing, you can play little games that are supposed to make your pre-frontal cortex more flexible and strong. There is a word scramble, a couple of math-related games, a piano-playing game (which is tricky because you are poking a little picture of a piano with a little stylus on a little screen…I didn’t like that mini-game), and a game where you make change. OK, well, not too bad. Charm: yellow puzzle piece.
Finally, I made it over to the Cross WorDS (get it, the DS is capitalized because you play it on a DS!) which was the final sofa. These are not the NYT Magazine Sunday Puzzle. I had a hard time getting into this. There is an anagramming option on this game, which I found annoying because it didn’t accept some words that Online Boggle accepts! I hate playing a game that has a smaller dictionary than the one in my head! However, the young woman in black at this station had a copy of a game called Planet Puzzle League, which I did have a good time with. It was her personal copy, and she said Nintendo was discontinuing it. That figures: the one I like is the one I can’t play. Well, I can play it if I buy it soon. I collected my final charm: a pink shoe (go figure?).
Then, since all the guests had pretty much tried all the games, the young women in black came around with the prizes we’d earned by playing all four games: we each received a black DS lite system and a copy of BrainAge 2.
What does Nintendo get in return for giving me $150 worth of merchandise (not including charm bracelet or wine and appetizers, or the cost of renting a loft and paying my parking)? I’m thinking that they hope I will buy more games, maybe some accessories, and be seen as a hip young urban woman playing their game system by other women who might then get the idea that they might want one too. I’m considering. I’ll try a few games through my husband’s gamefly subscription, and see if I want to buy any of them. If I find myself using the DS often, I might buy a case for it. The black shiny plastic case shows fingerprints in a big way.
My brain age so far is 32. Apparently I’m supposed to be aiming for 20.