NBN-Tendo is a weekly column that explores interactive entertainment, industry trends, the latest news and the cultural impact of the video game. This week, we're taking a look at the extra gadgets, gimmicks and add-ons for everything from Babysitting Mama to M-rated video games.
I'm ashamed to admit it, but I once bought a game just for the irony. It was Babysitting Mama, an actual game where players stick a Wii remote inside a stuffed baby doll and pretend to take care of it. I discovered it last year after watching numerous hilarious videos of game critics attempting to review the thing. Specifically, after watching this video, I was convinced that this was a product I needed to own, which also says a lot about my sense of humor.
Before the deed was done, however, it dawned on me just how creepy it would be to walk over to the Evanston GameStop, alone and at night, pick up this boxed baby and ask the clerk, "Do you have a used one of these?" since I wasn't going to pay new game prices for a joke. Luckily a friend of mine, who was only 17 at the time, needed a legal adult with him in order to purchase an M-rated game he wanted. So together we headed over and bought the two best games one could buy at once: Fallout: New Vegas and Babysitting Mama.
The game itself is dumb and totally forgettable but that stuffed baby has become a small fixture of our dorm with its own Facebook page and everything. Unfortunately, most of the other nonsensical peripherals, outside of fake guitars and more recently the Skylanders toys, that have existed throughout the history of gaming don't end up with such a good fate. For every Babysitting Mama that gets snapped up by college kids on a whim, there are piles of fake bowling balls, sharp shooters, inflatable go-karts and game boats just languishing.
Even add-ons that provide legitimate functionality are often cast by the wayside. Sega's infamous attempt to stave off the Super Nintendo threat with CD-ROM and 32x upgrades only quickened the death of their only console worth owning, no, not the Dreamcast but the Genesis. Look at how after giving in to fan complaint, Nintendo added voice chat to the Wii with Wii Speak but barely even supported it. Nintendo's new 3DS Circle Pad Pro, which adds dual-analog support to the handheld gaming system, works great with Resident Evil: Revelations but will that be it?
Gimmicks and gaming are joined at the hip. It's been like that since the arcade days, and there's no reason for it to stop anytime soon. Still, if it wasn't for dumb game gimmicks I wouldn’t be the proud owner of an unintentionally entertaining fake baby with a remote-shaped hole in its back. Stupid harmless plastic will continue to flood the market, and it'll keep being promptly ignored. However, nothing will ever be able to take my baby away from me.