Collective obsession

Gotta catch ‘em all. It seems so innocuous, doesn’t it? There are lots of these little Pokémon fellas, and your challenge is to grab each and every one. But no, it’s not quite that innocent. Nintendo’s catchphrase invokes a youthful enthusiasm by deliberately tapping into the psychology behind game design, a never-ending, insidious cycle of collection and reward that we wholly by into with no reservations. Practically every game on the market entices us with collectable coins that lead to secret unlockables, or trophies to chart our progress — something to tap into that unconscious addiction to collect ‘em all.

[[image:090530_wariocollectiveobsession.jpg:Wario makes greed seem so fun!:center:0]]
And now, for the first time in years, I’ve found myself falling victim to the same phenomenon outside the digital realm. Gone are the days when I’d thumb quarter after quarter into hungry arcade machines, blowing weeks of allowance money in exchange for wads of yellow tickets that could be exchanged for cheap plastic prizes. I wised up to that scam, although I suppose it wasn’t all bad — I still have a couple nice Dave & Busters drinking glasses half a dozen years later.

Yet the itch to collect remains. Nintendo has me utterly bent to their will thanks to the new Club Nintendo, which finally seems to have given up crashing for days at a time. At first, I thought “Register games, get prizes. What’s not to like?” Now I know better. It’s just a clever way to pull me into buying more games. I’ve managed to resist the pull of their normal rewards — my hard-earned coins seem to have an intrinsic value greater than a White Nintendo DS Card Case (though it is pretty sexy). But membership rankings? A quantitative measurement of my collecting skills up to this point, reinforced by a mysterious reward to be delivered only once a year?

They’ve got me. How can I be content as a lowly Gold member when Platinum lurks just around the corner? I can’t, of course. Looks like I have another Nintendo game to buy before the end of June.

7 thoughts on “Collective obsession

  1. The whole special gift thing got me more interested in Club Nintendo as well. Most of the normal coin prizes are crap, but the special gifts have the potential to be something really friggin’ sweet…..if they’re anything like the ones Japan has received.

    As for coin-bought stuff, I’m saving up for the Mario hanafuda cards. Nice ironic coming of full-circle there.

  2. Damn, we are in the SAME DAMNED BOAT. I currently have 590 Nintendo points! And I just got Punch-Out!! and I feel the urge to buy another game before the June 30th deadline, but none are calling to me…

  3. I have a ton of potential Nintendo points, but since I’ve already achieved Platinum status, I’ve held back from registering any more until after the reset.

    I’ve also learned that with new release games, there’s a potential 30 extra “Coins” to earn… if you register an “intent to buy” before the game releases and then register that game, you get 10 Coins (of course, you need to be rather viligent about this one, since it only pops up for a brief period a few weeks before the game releases). If you buy it within 4 weeks of its release date, you get another 10 Coins. Not to mention the post-play survey 6 weeks later, which nets yet another 10 Coins. They do add up over time.

    But back on topic… it is a clever incentive, but I was going to buy most of these games anyway, so it’s just a nice bonus for me.

  4. i’ve been waiting on this service since 2004. i’ve got over 1100 coins already. now i just need something cool to spend them on. to LE GEEK, don’t worry about the ten points, just wait for the ten point survey for punch out and you’re there. either that, or buy a vc game.

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