A coupld of weeks ago Nintendo sent me an Amiibo to check out. Here’s where that Amiibo is right now: roughly a couple of feet from the child seat in my car. Before that it was lodged in my two year old’s mouth, being chewed upon, drooled on, thrown at the patio glass door with vigour. My Amiibo has been in the bath. My Amiibo has been dropped in a potty and covered in pee. My Amiibo has done everything an Amiibo could possibly dream of doing. He has been in nightmarish situations. He has done everything except be scanned into a Wii U controller.
To date, my Amiibo has yet to fulfil the task for which it has been designed.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I really don’t understand Amiibos.
Okay, I understand what they are. Perhaps understand is the wrong word. On some level I ‘understand’ why they’ve sold out in stores across Australia. I understand how they work. I even understand the appeal to an extent -- the idea of collecting things, of creating this strange relationship with a toy that is connected to a video game you play.
What I’m really trying to say here is I don’t relate to it.
I don’t relate to the excitement people feel when discussing Amiibos. I don’t relate to adults rushing from store to store to buy them. I don’t relate to the stress and anxiety of adult people who feel the need to own these things.
On some level my inner voice is saying, ‘aren’t Amiibos toys for children?’ I hear myself thinking that. Me, a person who writes about video games for a living. A person who has long fought against the notion that video games are for kids. Me, a person who grew up with Nintendo and properly, unashamedly loves Nintendo games. Me, who has a pretty damn sexy Batman figure sitting on my desk alongside a couple of plushies. I’m looking at these Amiibos and thinking, what in the goddamn world is all the fuss about?
And if you happen to be one of those men or women seething at the Amiibo shortage, frantically trying to store up a collection – I’m not judging you. At least I’m trying not to judge you. We all like ‘things’. We all collect ‘things’.
But why Amiibos? They don’t strike me as anything different from all the other memorabilia you could spend your money on if you’re so inclined.
Yesterday I got a message from an old friend. He has a kid and he was desperately searching for Amiibos. I think of that guy, I think of him racing like a madman through Sydney looking for Amiibos and finding that they’ve been snaffled up in seconds by tech savvy adults he can’t compete with. Bought in bulk by eBaying opportunists. That makes me a little sad.
Particularly since I have one of those Amiibos he needs. Covered in bitemarks and drool, sitting in my car seat. He points at it every now and then. He’s learned to say ‘Mario’. Sometimes he even says ‘Let’s-a-go’. Maybe one day he’ll learn to scan the thing.
I feel as though I’m missing something. Am I missing something? What do Amiibos do? They allow players to store information about their character, unlock certain types of content on pre-existing video games. Not earth shattering content – things like a different outfit for Luigi in Mario Kart 8. Stuff like that. I can’t help but feel like Amiibos are superfluous toys that don’t really do anything. Superfluous. That’s the word really. I don’t understand how these plastic toys have become so insanely essential to adults? I literally can’t imagine a situation where I would walk into a store and buy one of these things for myself.