If you’ve been watching news lately (at least, before Blizzcon) then there’s a good chance you’ve noticed that Battlefield 3 has an interesting cross-promotion going on with PepsiCo (who owns Doritos and Mountain Dew) to get video gamers interested in both products. There will be codes on Mountain Dew and Doritos that, once applied to your account, will give you Double XP time in the game. Elsewhere, if you grab some Nos energy drink, there will be a game code to unlock a new skin in Batman: Arkham City.
On the other hand, you have food specifically marketed to people who play video games. Various beverages and food products are infused with caffeine, taurine and other chemicals and advertise that these products will help you “keep gaming longer”.
This is just ridiculous.
I’m willing to understand and accept that gamers have the stereotype of not eating as well as they should. Yes, I’ve ordered my fair share of pizza, Dew and other foods that are seriously not good for my friends and me so we can play without cooking. Gamers in general are not known for their healthy eating habits. We get that. Does this mean that we’re a food demographic to be exploited?
Mountain Dew and Doritos are just feeding a stereotype that should really be starved to death. By combining snack foods with a promotion for a bonus in a competitive game, both parties are conspiring to get people to eat and drink more of their food which, by all accounts, doesn’t approach ‘healthy’ if you gave it Boots of Striding and Springing and a ten foot pole. The argument of “well, people could buy the codes and toss the food” doesn’t hold much water, because Doritos and Mountain Dew are pretty delicious and people typically don’t throw away foodstuffs they buy. People could use the code and throw away the food, but that doesn’t inform the companies in question of their folly, but at least that solves half of the equation.
Now, some of these ‘gamer foods’ actually try to be good for you. Gamer Grub (http://www.gamergrub.com) is actually trying to make ‘gamer food’ that tastes good as well as providing nutrients and such, and that is commendable up to a point. I think my problem with these kinds of foods is their way of advertising. They seem to be confusing ‘video gamers’ with ‘athletes and/or bodybuilders’ with their product descriptions (a “performance snack”?) and many of their font choices. While I’ll admit I haven’t touched their stuff, I am rather afraid of what “Gamer Grub S’mores” will taste like.
The bottom line is, we as gamers should be working on getting healthier diets. Rewarding gamers for incorrect choices isn’t a good thing, and these companies’ blatant attempt at feeding this stereotype should be decried, not rewarded. I’d like to think that we’re smarter than that – gamers don’t need to be pandered to, and assuming we are really trips my circuit.