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Game accessories strain relationships, decor
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Enter the video game accessory as date killer.
Consider Chris Blessitt. He had so much fun with is buddies playing "Guitar Hero II" he decided to buy his own copy of the popular music game -- and the nearly life-sized plastic guitar that goes with it -- much to his girlfriend Kate's dismay.
As the 27-year-old stage actor went looking through the shelves at a Best Buy Co. Inc. (BBY.N) store in New York this week, he recalled his girlfriend of nine-months' reaction when he approached her with the idea.
"She rolled her eyes," he said.
Although video game playing has strained relationships since the 1970s, a new generation of games that require fancy and hard-to-hide controllers just make it worse.
Carrie Sloan, editor-in-chief of Tango, a magazine about relationships, says game accessories are the post-modern equivalent for women of the perennial complaint made by men.
"The number one thing that men complain about is her shoe collection," Sloan says.
As a new generation of game consoles hit the market over the past year, led by the Nintendo Co. Ltd. (7974.OS) Wii, coupled with the surge in popularity of new games such as "Dance Dance Revolution" and "Guitar Hero," game accessory sales have jumped nearly 70 percent in the first two months of 2007. That's after game accessories sales rose some 20 percent last year to an estimated $1.47 billion, according to the NPD Group.
"With the rise of certain game genres and, as they get more realistic looking, you have to have a different type of controller," DFC Intelligence analyst David Cole said.
In other words, besides already dorky controllers, gamers now have life-sized steering wheels, plastic guitars, dance mats and toy guns to play with.
The "Guitar Hero" series, developed by Viacom Inc.'s VIAb.N Harmonix and available on Sony Corp.'s (6758.T) PlayStation and Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT.O) Xbox 360, is considered a particularly egregious affront to interior design.
Then there is the issue of safety.
Maybe that's why self-confessed game junky Brenda Brathwaite, whose 10 or more video game consoles and over 20 controllers once ruined the living room decor, drew the line when her "Guitar Hero" guitar fell on her head.
Brathwaite, a professor and game designer at Savannah College of Art and Design and author of "Sex in Video Games," took it to heart after her husband -- a stay at home father of two who is definitely not a game player -- suggested her games and gear might be happier away from the family living space.
"I'm allowed to have my sprawl in my office," she said. "The living room is for the family.
"With all the new controllers, it's getting out of hand," she added, saying her living room once looked like "a large spider was crawling out of the television."
"For whatever reason, girls just don't like you spending time playing video games," game player Festus Williams said. "And then you come in with a guitar or steering wheel, that could get people in trouble."
But the part about girls might not be entirely true when it comes to some of the new games.
"Guitar Hero," for instance, encourages friends to duel against each other as spectators cheer them on.
Tango's Sloan, the authority on relationships, in fact recommends "Guitar Hero" and "Dance Dance Revolution" as games that could bring couples together.
Sloan and her boyfriend were recently invited by another couple to a "Dance Dance Revolution" double date.
"So maybe the accessories are twofold: they may take up space, but also serve as a his-and-hers social elixir," Sloan added.
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