The new commercial for Tears of the Kingdom, which tells the story of a burned-out businessman who rediscovers his sense of adventure while playing a new Zelda game, is a total bummer. Its grey, moody cinematography and melancholic tone seem like an inappropriately dour way to advertise a Nintendo game about building flying cars in Hyrule, and I’m not surprised to find that memes are happening on social media, What worries me is that people are inadvertently talking about how relatable it is, and how enjoyable Nintendo is for making it. You would think that a decade of Mad Men would give people a better understanding of the ethos of advertising, but let’s make one thing clear: There’s nothing new or clever about a brand telling you that buying its product will make your life less shy. will be shiny. , The Sad Boy Zelda commercial isn’t the kind of marketing that people who love games should be celebrating.
gamer video of the dayScroll to continue with content
You should see the ad yourself if you haven’t seen it, but I’ll describe it anyway so we’re on the same page about what it actually represents. It begins with a middle-aged man boarding a busy public bus. He is dressed in dark clothes, as are everyone else on the bus with him. It’s a dark, overcast day, and you get the sense that this is part of the man’s routine. He gives an unseen passenger a sly, uncomfortable grin as he takes his seat, then lets out a tired sigh. He looks out the window, the world is gray. Somber piano music begins to play. For a moment he catches a glimpse of his own reflection, then quickly looks away and sighs again.
At night, he returns to his dimly lit house. He sighs again as the door closes, but he doesn’t announce himself. As he enters the kitchen to fill water from the tap, his wife arrives. Instead of a warm hug, she hastily gives him a relaxing massage on his arm before going to bed. The man walks into the living room with his water and starts playing Tears of the State.
The piano music turns into an uplifting arrangement, and we see how he learns to play the game. As he explores and explores the world, he smiles for the first time. He is focusing on his feelings, is engaged and is speaking verbally. He is solving problems and enjoying the rewards that come with it. In the end, we see her on the bus again, only this time she has her switch on. As he plays, he’s as enthusiastic as he was the night before. In the ad’s final moment, he looks out the window, sees a beautiful blue sky, and smiles. He sighs once again, but this time with a sigh of relief. Life is beautiful again, thanks to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
The intent of the commercial is completely clear. This inexplicably handsome everyman whose life is a pitiful, colorless indifference; whose existence is defined by monotony; whose own wife won’t even kiss him before going to bed; That man is you. You lead a mundane, miserable life. You Stuck in a boring dead-end job. Your world is gray and depressing. But don’t worry, because Nintendo has a solution. Buy our new video game, and you can see color in the world again. This game will save you from your miserable malaise.
There is nothing new in this type of marketing. Every brand from Nike to Tampax has told the same story at one point or another. This is one of the simplest and most dishonest forms of advertising because it begins with a situation that tells the customer they are unhappy, then tries to convince them that whatever they’re selling solves their problems. Will solve Share a Coke and make the world a better place. Play Tears of the Kingdom and rekindle your childlike sense of adventure.
The only thing that makes it unique for gamers is our weirdly unhealthy fixation on escapism. Too many people believe that the value that video games add to their lives is an opportunity to escape from it. This is why people say they hate politics in sports, or criticize the “whimsical agenda”. They want none of it to be real and none of it to matter, thus they can disconnect from themselves and live in a fantasy world.
I once saw a sketch on TikTok that I really liked, which I would never find again, thanks to TikTok’s unusable search bar. A boy is telling his friend that he is in dire need of a vacation and is sure that it will heal his soul and change his negative outlook. It then cuts to an exotic locale overlooking a beautiful beach, and he says, “It turns out I need therapy, but at least the view is nice.”
I worry that so many people are too comfortable accepting the premise of this Zelda ad. I won’t deny that games can be therapeutic – I don’t think I could make a career out of writing about them if I thought so – but this idea of living for the next triple-A game release is getting us nowhere. The one who takes you is good. Exploring the fantasy world of Hyrule should be something that enriches your life, not something that holds you back from ending it. No one should be playing games as a way to self-medicate, and Nintendo shouldn’t be advertising Zelda as the tonic that makes you sick, either. Show us the gameplay and tell us what it’s worth $70 for, but don’t try to convince us that our tiny little lives would be so much less miserable if we bought it.