Last night, I popped the bunny ears into place, just in time to see a news report about addictive video games.
They went to a clinic for people with video game addiction. Now, you would expect to see a bunch of shaken, uncontrollable adolescents with their hands firmly around an XBOX controller, right?
Wrong. Dead wrong.
Almost every single patient there was beyond the age of 40, and 60% of them were women. That's right! There was not a child, tween or teen in sight. Not one minor, not one chip-stained-shirt-wearing 20 something, nope. Every last one of them was someone's mom or dad. Astounding? Keep reading.
The games these people were addicted to were not war games such as Call of Duty (I said duty) or lawless games like Grand Theft Auto, or even platform titles like Super Mario Brothers.
These were casual games. The type that only that old, derpy relative you have would buy. You know the one, the lady or gent who only talks to you on purpose maybe 2-5 times a year, never bothers to keep up with your interests and then gets all butt hurt when you don't right away kiss their asses for that lame gift you got. The same one that ruins Christmas or Hanukkah dinners with the lame excuse of "I didn't HAVE TO get you ANYTHING you know". Yeah. That one.
These adults were addicted to games like FarmVille, Catz, Dogz, and other cheaply produced games built off of the concept of daily chores. FarmVille was focused on most in the piece, because it's easily accessible. As long as you have internet access, you can legally play the game for free, though they do charge real people money for high-end sprites.
This perked up my ears. While I don't spend too much time with it, I am a FarmVille player.
I'm not an expert at it, but it's kind of fun to play a game with friends who live far away. 5-10 minutes every other week is about what I give myself for it. But I did know about people who were more addicted. I've heard of people playing it for 8-12 hours a day. That's a job schedule. So I watched more of the show to see why people were getting addicted to this.
Turns out, the games are structured to give you a sense of reward quicker. There aren't as many obstacles to face as with regular games, but that's not the only part.
Every 6 seconds, these games give off a blue sparkle effect.
Blue is a relaxing color, which seems to allow the game to more easily access the reward center of the brain. The relaxing color when splashed with white entices the player's visual center, because let's face facts here, blue sparkles look awesome. It looks whimsical and magical, intriguing you to sit closer, and follow where the game is going. It's almost the same effect as if you were to play at a Las Vegas casino ~ the same casinos which also have games with large amounts of blue sparkles.
Now this got me curious. Casual games aren't the only things with blue sparkles in them. And the sparkle effect reminded me of something else, accused of granting addictions.
Think about it. Every year, little girls all over the country go insane for Cinderella.
Oh sure, the movie itself doesn't seem to hold a kid's attention for very long, and essentially it is a film about a bullied young woman who plays with mice, being used as a slave in (literally) her own home, and how a fancy pair of shoes entices a total stranger to want to marry her, (Questionable much?) but still, every holiday season, parents are caught scrambling at the mall, trying to find anything of her.
At first, I thought that it had to have been the blonde/red hair. Marketing agencies are constantly shoving blonde girls into the public eye, but Cinderella's hair only appears blonde in the promotional photos. If you watch the actual film, her hair goes from being orange-yellow to brown to strawberry blonde. There's no consistency with the color. Furthermore, Aurora from Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel from Tangled are each 4 times as blonde as Cinderella, and don't seem to grasp onto a kid's attention half as long.
So I thought the blue eyes and bold pinks and blues of the film must be it, but then Sleeping Beauty uses a similar color palette. Again, Cinderella is more popular.
Is it because the film is more harsh, appealing to the same inner troll that thinks Annoying Orange is groundbreaking, Emmy worthy material? No, equally harsh Disney cartoons have much shorter fanbases than this. The cartoon mice? No, again, if this were the case, there would be more Black Friday deaths caused by Mickey and Minnie Mouse than Cinderella.
But with this finding, I now know. Watch the film again. Everything from the Fairy Godmother scene to the ending credits is coated in blue sparkles.
I'm sure nobody at Disney back then was thinking about subliminal advertising. After all, each princess after Snow White has had different colored sparkles adorning her costume and poster. But seemingly only Disney films that have been splashed with blue colored sparkles are the ones girls beg for the most.
Think about every movie that has been your favorite. Every TV show. What enticed you to watch? This isn't just a Disney or casual game issue, there's an awful lot of things that we have that are covered with blue sparkles. Think hard, did anybody really get into the Twilight movies for the story?
The cast has sincere trust issues, half of the cast are the walking dead, and the main character has no personality whatsoever, and has a baby with an undead teen boy. Do you know what happens to the body after death? That glistening effect is really gross. But it's blue, enticing the public to watch.
It's no different with anime titles. Think about some of the shows you may have tried. Did you watch because your friends told you to? Because it was popular?
I'm even looking back at my usual TV choices. For years, I heard that in Japan, when Sailormoon was brand new, Sailor Mercury was the show's most popular character. At first I thought it was because she's quiet, well behaved, the smartest of the Sailor Senshi, and very much into traditional values. But maybe not?
Aside from being easy on the eyes and adding a feeling of awe to any picture, blue sparkles also remind us of the stars. When you see something glimmering in blue, you're reminded of a clear sky at night. You're reminded of comfort and romance, bedtime, gorgeous gems, maybe even strong energy attacks. The brain picks up on those memories or ideas that you have, enticing you to explore whatever it is that's sparkling.
Pink, red, green, yellow, these other colors don't seem to work as well. But blue, purple, aqua and teal sparkles hit the reward center of the brain, giving the viewer a feeling similar to getting high. And you don't even have to stare at them to get the effect. It can glimmer from the corner of your eye for just 6 seconds, that's all the brain needs to pick up on.
Makes you wonder, how much of what you like.... do you really?