You too can be G.I. Joe at Work or Play

Thankyou Virtual Worlds News for reporting on this development (via Playthings.com) by Hasbro with their G.I. Joe characters. In case you have not read the piece Hasbro(the massive toy company) are running a promotion for the new G.I. Joe movie. On the action figure website you are able to create a custom G.I. Joe character, with various pieces of kit and a background story arc in the profile. The creation of the figure is an entry into a competition and the top 39 winners will have the figure produced for them complete with a scan of their face on the action figure.
Ok so this is not mass 3d printing toy customization (yet) and there have been people who make action figures of you. However this is mainstream use of what is effectively avatar customization.
I am a fan of character collectible action figures. (I am not an obsessive collector but I probably could be). I have always been interested in these iconic sculptures, especially as they really came to the fore with Star Wars back in the late 70’s when I was 10 or 11 years old.
Characters
Character Figures
I am also intrigued by the placement of this and the psychology of play that it taps into. In my very basic understanding of development I believe that the younger children play with toys as an exploration of the physical world, outside of their persona. As they get older kids start to them develop role play, the empathy and excitement of being that character. It is that crossover that we start to get in both video games and virtual worlds. A mix of create-your-own-hero and path, versus reliving and acting as your favorite hero.
The choices of expression, and the resurfacing of that choice we see in adults in both business and leisure activities is highlighted in virtual worlds. It is precisely this that brings discussions of trust and identity, representation of ones personal brand conflicting and complementing the brand of a company you may represent. It also brings a hint of fear to some people who feel they have crafted and controlled their image in one plane, yet opportunity for the explorers and innovators to expand their presence and image in new and interesting ways.
There was something I read recently about the Peter Principle (people being promoted in corporations past their level of competence) and how the random selection of individuals versus the “merit” promotion of individuals had the same results. It is this sort of environment that you get to hear phrases like “Well their face fits”. That refers as much to personal brand fitting with an organization as just the pure looks of a person in a company.
As we become more digitally literate expressions of who we are outside of the boundaries of an organization become more important. Even BBC Click had a section on it about protecting elements of your facebook profile from the eyes of your management.
Of course keeping secrets, yet sharing nearly publicly is a strange thing to do, so I think people are just best to be open and honest and let society evolve around them to understand who they are, and to also let them evolve themselves in how they express themselves.
The question would be (to add an extreme boundary here). If someone had managed to win a G.I. Joe of themselves (which in unlikely in this competition you need to be 6-12 years old BTW) and had it sat on their desk at work, how would that affect your view of them? Have they shown creativity, skill in a new field and proven to be a winner as demonstrated by the personalized trophy they have or are they just too weird and strange for the status quo? Have you seen the expression of an innovative form of engagement with the audience or just a lump of coloured plastic?
I always find it worth considering the toy industry, just as you should consider the games industry. They are real industries and they do make money so discount the products from them as somehow silly or not worthy stops people thinking about new ways to engage with customers.

4 thoughts on “You too can be G.I. Joe at Work or Play

  1. i have been watching GI Joe cartoons since childhood. a year ago, i was thinking why Hollywood has not yet created a movie version of GI JOE. I am very happy now that i can watch a movie version of my favorite cartoon show.

  2. i am a big fan of GI Joe. it was originally a cartoon series that i always watched when i was just a kid. i also collected many GI Joe action figures.

  3. GI Joe the movie is awesome. it focuses mainly on nanotechnology. this movie should have been made a couple of years ago.

  4. I used to watch GI Joe animated series wayback in my childhood days. the movie version of GI Joe is definitely the best.

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