What’s most interesting to me is that for the second time in as many weeks its the reaction of my peers in the games industry on Twitter that has moved me to put finger to keyboard. Most folk (and evidently MCV readers, if the comments are anything to go by) didn’t agree with me then. And I suspect they might not now.
But what does it say about the specialist press’ "balanced and reasoned" approach to the games industry when a trailer featuring a dead school girl flying out of a window is heralded as the second coming and a trailer for a quite sensibly targeted new Wii game that sees gown ups cheekily slapping one another on the bottom is derided?
It says that we’re still thinking like little boys.
Ubisoft’s We Dare. It was actually announced last month but mostly passed without notice. And it’s not hard to see why. The first press release for the game said that We Dare "givesplayers the opportunity to choose from 40 hilarious, innovative and quirky mini-games". Not a sentence that would catch the eye of little boys. Or big boys. Or girls. Of any size. Or anyone really.
What did catch the eye, though, is the debut trailer, which you can see here:
I’ll be upfront about a couple of things. The music, the swanky flat, the quite disdainfully attractive models drafted in to act – there’s plenty to hate here. In all honesty I could think of nothing worse than a night with these people playing a saucy Wii game.
But then We Dare isn’t aimed at me. This advert isn’t aimed at me. No more than Ben 10, Babysitting Mama, Family Party or Carnival Games are aimed at me. But that doesn’t make them stupid products.
It would be fine if industry cynicism were reserved purely for the likes of Twitter. But it’s there, clear to see, in our actual coverage of the game online.
Look at some of these headlines:
Ubisoft’s ‘We Dare’ Places Actual Girls in Compromising Positions
Sex-Fueled Wii Mini-Game Collection Promotes Spankings, Group Sex
‘Sexy’ Wii game unveils worst trailer of all time
Ubisoft’s ‘We Dare’ Trailer Aims for Sexy, Comes Off Creepy (NSFW)
The Wii’s Sexiest Game Just Got Sad (And Creepy)
Who We Dare it is aimed at is young, Wii-owning middle class professionals. Of which there are millions. I reckon at 20-25 this game could make a killing. (And yes, i realise that THQ’s not all that dissimilar Truth or Lies was a total flop, but it’s arguable that the core reason for that is quite simple – it was a bad product).
Games have done killing, we’ve done swearing, we’ve done torture and we’ve done throwing school girls out of windows. What we’ve never really done is romance and flirtation. At least, not in a manner that could in any way be described as ‘grown up’.
And slapping your mate’s misses on the bum in a game of We Dare might not seem grown up on the face of it, but think about it: Two fellas have two girls around for dinner. The three bottles of red have been devoured and you feel uncomfortable asking them to play the Hula Hoop game in Wii Fit again. We Dare, complete with a stripping mini-game on the Wii Balance Board, could properly fit the bill.
As the specialist games press we really do have to evolve beyond the childish ridicule of things that we might not think we’d like. So, the We Dare trailer actually makes you feel a bit sick with disgust? Keep it quiet but yeah, me too. I could literally thump that fella in the blue shirt.
But Ubisoft is aiming at a totally different market to the one you and I inhabit. And it’s a huge market, too, far bigger than us now marginalised ‘hardcore’ lot. Should we be mocking a games publisher who’s identified a possible new target audience and tailored a product to their needs? Or should we be sensibly trying to report on a new product that’s trying to do something new?