About a month ago, I got an email asking me if I'd be interested in becoming a Nintendo Brand Enthusiast. I was three seconds away from deleting it---figuring it was just some cleverly-disguised INCREDIBLE PRICES FOR BEST DRUG$! junk mail---when I decided to take a closer look. And then an even closer one. As far as I could figure out, after extensive between-the-lines reading, Nintendo just wanted to throw me parties and send me stuff. For free. Was there a catch? Nope, there was no catch.
And so I did what any self-respecting sell-out would do in this sort of situation; I wrote back with the only two words that sprung to mind: HELL and YES.
The first step was meeting with the Nintendo rep, the lovely Justine. Now, I like to think I've led a fairly glamorous life so far, but Justine just about blew me out of the water when she flew up from L.A. to meet with me one evening after work and then turned straight back around to head to the airport again when we were done. "But....you just got here!" I sputtered. "And you're flying right back again?" She shrugged it off with a laugh, while I remained impressed enough to regale anyone I met within the next two weeks with this anecdote. "Cross my heart!" I'd swear, my eyes wide. "She flew up just for the afternoon! Have you ever heard of anything so badass in your life?"
A few days later, a package came for me at work. I sliced open the box with scissors, while a couple of curious co-workers watched from their cubicles. Inside, was a brand new DS Lite. It was black and glossy and beautiful, and I had absolutely no idea what to do with it.
Because this is the thing, you see: I've never thought of myself as a video game kind of girl. Sure, I once passed a few pre-teen evenings playing Wonder Boy In Monsterland with my brother Tom (click on that link, Tom, it'll make your day!), and I did develop quite the hardcore Tetris habit between the years of, oh, 1991 and 2002. Hell, there's even some indisputable evidence that I've been known to rock the Guitar Hero once in a while. But do I know my joysticks from my consoles? Um, no. In fact, I might be the only person in the world who doesn't get the "pwnd" reference. And you know what? Until a few weeks ago, I wasn't particularly ashamed of that. I figured video games were the territory of nerdy boys who sat in their darkened bedrooms with the blinds drawn on sunny days.
But oh, how wrong I was. And Nintendo wanted to prove how wrong I was. If the first order of business was sending me the shiny new DS Lite, the second was throwing a gaming party for me and 25 of my closest female friends. At first---not pegging any of my pals as the gaming type---I worried that no-one would want to come. But when I sent the invitations out, the RSVPs tumbled in immediately, and 99% of them were "yes, yes, yes!" So then, of course, I worried some more. Now I had 25 of my female friends---which is pretty much all of my female friends in the continental U.S.---counting on me to show them a good time. And what if the party was lame? What if the booze ran out? What if Nintendo pitched a hard sell and made us look at spreadsheets and pie charts and tried to convince us to buy stuff? What if nobody wanted to play the Wii?
To say I worried for nothing would be a severe understatement. The party, in fact, turned out to be a rousing success. Held in the loft-like Dogpatch Studios in Potrero Hill, it was presided over by four black-clad Nintendo goddesses, all of them so gorgeous that they likely had side jobs as supermodels. All of my friends were there---minus the boy contingent, of course, though I did have one or two of them offer to wear a skirt in order to be allowed entry---and I had the unfamiliar honor of hosting a party for which I needed to do nothing (no cooking! no cleaning!) but simply show up.
The room was organized into four stations, with each station representing one of the four games we'd be playing on the DS Lites provided for the occasion.
(Photo taken by Leah)
The back of the room was taken up with the food table---excellent catering; I believe I ate my weight in dolma, feta, and chocolate chip cookies (um, not together)---and the all-important bar, which boasted free-flowing wine, champagne, soft drinks, and the fancy kind of fizzy water.
(Photo taken by SLynnRo)
We spent the next three hours moving between the four different game stations, trying our hand at Mario Kart, Brain Age 2, Guitar Hero: On Tour, and Crosswords. Once we'd played one of the games---we could play them for as long as we wanted to---we were given a corresponding charm for the charm bracelets we'd been handed as we walked in the door. While playing my boss at Mario Kart was just slightly stressful (she won, thank goodness, or else I might not have had a job the next day), the most taxing of the four games was Brain Age 2, which involved a little more math that I usually like alongside my champagne, the usual amount of math I like alongside my champagne being, uh, let's see, NO MATH AT ALL.
Look, my brain is 71! Except I'm.....28. Wow, that's embarrassing. Let's blame the champagne.
One of the most fabulous things about the party was that everyone was really into all the games; it's funny, if you'd asked me before the party if anyone I knew liked video games, I would have raised an eyebrow and shaken my head doubtfully. But man, how wrong I was! It was really kind of heartwarming how all of my friends, from all the different and various parts of my life, came together and bonded over a little two-inch by three-inch screen.
Even better, I got to hang out with all my pals in one place! And because it was BlogHer weekend, that meant catching up with a lot of wonderful people I don't normally get to see all that often, people like Susan and Chris and SLynnRo and Heather and Jennifer, and the fabulous Anh-Minh, who wrote the Apartment Therapy House Tour we were in a few months ago. (And people like Leah and Moose and Jemima, of course, but eh, whatevs, I see them all the time.)
I seem to be so excited to talk to Susan here that I have lost my ENTIRE LEFT HAND. Seriously, where is it? Is that freaky or what? And yet somehow I still managed to play the video games without it. Although perhaps THAT'S why my brain age is 71.
While some people opted to play the DS Lite games for the entire night---Guitar Hero: On Tour was really addictive; I think it's going to be the next game I buy, in fact---others mixed it up with a little Wii-playing:
At the end of the night, when we'd snacked and sipped and gamed ourselves silly, the Nintendo goddesses---seriously, I know they had a real name, but they were so pretty and lovely and friendly and I can't remember what it was---started to hand out the party favors. And what were these party favors? Why, only the most awesome party favors you can think of: DS Lites for everyone!
(Can we just take a moment and savor that? THEY GAVE ALL OF MY PARTY GUESTS THEIR VERY OWN DS LITE. And also a copy of Brain Age 2! Not only is this one of the most incredibly generous moves I've ever seen, but oh my god, score! I don't have to remember anyone's birthday for years now! I'll just be all "oh, remember that time you came to my party and you got a DS Lite? Yeah, that was your birthday present. For the next five years. You're welcome.")
(Confidential to my friends: um, not really. But actually kind of really. And ooh, yes, thank you, I would like a cup of coffee if you're running out to Starbucks! And did I tell you where I dropped my dry-cleaning?)
Speaking of the DS Lite, by the way, I've been playing mine every night---no kidding, every single night---since the party. I haven't been won over by the Crossword game yet, but I am officially obsessed with Brain Age 2, and every evening I participate in what I solemnly call "my training." In fact, if you came over to my house one evening, you'd find me and Sean slumped on the couch, DS Lites in hand, both participating in complex Brain Age 2 exercises with furrowed brows. (If you're lucky enough to have a copy of Brain Age 2, by the way, might I suggest finding the "hidden"game called Virus Buster? Yeah, you'll thank me for that when you NEVER SLEEP AGAIN. It's like a highly addictive form of Tetris, which in itself is highly addictive anyway. Say goodbye to the next five years of your life.)
All in all, my experience so far with Nintendo has been absolutely fantastic, and I should disclose that they were super laid-back about whether I wrote about the experience on my blog. There was no pressure, no pitching, no anything: just a "hey, let's show you what we're about, and you can decide what you think of us." And this, of course, makes me want to shout from the rooftops about how wonderful they are. Well, that and the plentiful bowls of jellybeans at the party.
The full set of Nintendo party pics can be found here if you're interested. Oh, and you'll be relieved to know that I have now whittled my brain age down from 71 to 41: that's what the daily training will do for you, apparently! Of course, I'm still 28, so it's not like I should get TOO proud of myself or anything.