Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gaming Merchandising - The weird, the funny, and the beautiful

Being an enthusiastic gamer does come with some risks, including the huge volumes of gaming merchandise available online and everywhere else. From kids toys to room-filling monstrosities, there's a menagerie trying to get your attention. It's like Second Life, but you can bump into it as well.

Photo: Danny Choo

Every game, every franchise, and particularly every movie-related game you've ever heard of, are putting out merchandise. Items range from the brilliant laser-molded top quality German models to the utterly horrendous sweat shop fodder from other worlds.

Some of the merchandise is pretty funny.
You can get:
  • Tribble breakfast cereals: See the original Star Trek show, eat the tribbles.
  • An MMORPG metal mouse which looks like it can perform surgery. The hunter-killer version will be coming soon, obviously.
  • Daggers and swords for Assassin's Creed which could get you arrested anywhere on Earth.
  • Gamer's clothes: They're as gruesome as they sound, including one pair of overalls with a suspender setup for gear which looks like some form of punishment. If you're looking for Fashion Oblivion, it's around this area.
  • Warcraft beer steins: They're classy, they're beautiful, and you wouldn't even have time to use them, while playing.
  • Retro games memorabilia: Nearly as bad as the originals, this stuff provides the definite Austin Powers meets Barbarella effect.
  • Witcher merchandise: This is funny because it's an actual category with almost no actual merchandise except a few wallpapers, but you can also find a pic of a girl eating a keyboard with the search, if that helps at all.
Looking for gaming merchandise
Ironically, gaming merchandising is finally becoming useful in some ways. If you're actually looking for something in particular, especially if it's from a while back, merchandising is giving a new lease of life to the older games.

Somehow, the commercial logic has teamed up with the culture, and merchandisers are getting a much better grip on the things people actually want. The trick is finding them. This is almost as bad as job hunting searches online, but it can be done.

The basic search rules are:
  • Provided you've got some unique descriptor, you'll definitely find something you want.
  • Never use generic descriptions of anything.
  • Distributor names are useful, to pin down sources.
  • Image searches can be better, because they help find suppliers. They're also good for early warning about quality.
  • Merchandise type: As long as you don't use “models” or “wallpaper” you've got a good shot at finding what you're looking for. If you're looking for someone or a type of character, use “swordsman”, for example.
  • Stay focused. These sites are distraction factories, and your options for going off on a tangent are excellent.
  • Be patient. Everything winds up on the net at some time, even if it's on eBay.
The cash outlay problem
When it's your favorite game, merchandise can have a crowbar-like effect on your credit card. Some of the better options for avoiding sudden financial death are:
Check your balance before even thinking about buying anything.

Set a figure, and stick close to it.

Use the Wish List, if you can't afford it. At least it'll be easier to find when you can.


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