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COMMENT: Fits and starts

COMMENT: Fits and starts
And you think we’ve got it bad. The internet’s favourite games industry rent-a-quote Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan suggested this week that Nintendo has been sending four times as much stock to Europe than it has to the US – the nation perhaps in most desperate need of whipping into shape.

Despite all Pachter’s talk of preferential treatment, Wii Fit has completely disappeared from the ELSPA/ChartTrack All Formats Top 40 for the past two weeks.

It’s difficult to work out where exactly all that supposed stock has gone – clearly Mr. Pachter hadn’t had a quick glance at UK retail’s shortages before making such bold claims.

Nintendo, of course, is doing its best to keep up, but its hands are tied – inevitably it takes a lot longer to produce the hardware that every health-conscious Wii owner is so keen to get their hands on.

But stock grumbles aside, Wii Fit’s current popularity surely makes a case for how in-tune with the general public’s paranoia the games industry is. Alongside Ubisoft titles like Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking and My Health Coach: Weight Management, increasingly the games industry is addressing the fears implicit in the increasing amount of TV shows and other media dedicated to keeping the nation slim.

From the Government discouraging the sale of the MCV editorial teams’ beloved fags to the terrifying omnipresence of health nazis like Gillian McKeith – the TV nation is increasingly obsessed with its health.

Tailoring our products to tap into this trend may from one perspective seem cynical and exploitative; but from another it is increasingly breaking down the tiresome perception that games all revolve around decapitating innocent pandas and feasting on their bloodied corpses.

The piece on this week’s Newsnight was a perfect example. Having roped some kids into playing a generic ‘violent video game’, the BBC reporters involved probed until they got their killer soundbite: apparently one of the boys’ friends had become a stroppy little bugger since he started playing GTA.

Stock issues will always be resolved over time – but the more abstract fight for fair treatment in the media continues. With products like Wii Fit in our armoury, we’ve got a decent chance of overturning this kind of coverage. ‘Healthy gaming’ has great potential – but God help us all if Gillian McKeith turns up at E3...

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