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.