“Flying. That’s my high.”
Inadequate sleep and physical exercise aside, go to any Internet Cafe (WangBa, 网吧) in the city and—if you can even see through the dense cloud of smoke trapped by the locked closed windows—you’ll find empty soda bottles and candy wrappers strewn about. It is no secret: gamers don’t treat their bodies well. But cigarettes and junk food are apparently not largest threat to gamers health.
Today’s China Daily pointed us to a different, but equally hazardous, aspect of the gamer lifestyle: drug use. The article discusses steps local Shanghai officials are taking to quell drug use in this unique, predominantly male demographic.
Culminating on June 26th, the Shanghai government is holding a contest to see which online computer game company can make the best anti-drug commercials. The winners will get to play their ads (which may include their logo, of course) in public areas and gaming stations throughout the city.
On one hand, hats off to the creative approach taken by the Shanghai government to have video game companies fight each other for advertisement slots. This approach is far better than the heavy handed tactics the US government tried in the early nineties (anybody out there in cyberland old enough to remember the United States’ FBI-sponsored “Winners Don’t Use Drugs” campaign?). The contest not only saves the Shanghai government resources, but also the embarrassment of being made fun of for their lame public service announcements about the harms of using drugs.
But then again, aren’t all anti-drug campaigns perceived as lame by the targeted demographic, regardless of who makes them or what they contain?
Imagine the response if Nintendo threw together an anti-drug campaign featuring a stand-up, mustachioed Luigi talking to his strung out, fallen on hard times brother Mario about why he should kick his mushroom habit (“I know they make you feel larger than life, Mario. But how many more times of you waking up in sewer chasing dragon fairies will it take for you to realize that it’s time to grow up and get a job?”).
Well received or not, the new ads will at least provide material for HILARIOUS parodies on Youku.