Ironically, Seiji has just renounced Battle Spirit cards. This was an expensive hobby that occupied the greater portion of his life outside of school for the last 3 years. He looked at the Lego cards with a bemused expression, thank goodness. He smiled a been there-done-that look because he now knows how game corporations manipulate children like him. He’s subjected himself to flashing lights and tv ads stretched 30 minutes long and knows what it feels like to be a servant to the urge to run out and buy the very next installment of cards.
As a cardmaker, I’ve spent the last several years alternating between shock and intrigue as I come to understand the ‘power’ that cards marketed to children, particularly to boys age 5-10, holds on their purse strings. Shock because these cardmakers are producing thousands of cards in the ‘Battle Spirit series. My son took me to Yodobashi Camera and showed me how there are more than ten different series that children can become hooked on. At one point, Seiji had amassed more than 3,000 of these cards. I was beside myself. I thought what can I do to stop this? What will it take?
Battle Spirit cards is a game that revolves around capturing the opponents cards through cores–bits of plastic–that card players use in an elaborate and complex game of rules that only my husband had the patience to master.
Seiji dreamed about becoming a professional Battle Spirit card player when he grew up. I held my tongue and said to myself this too will pass.He had participated in a few tournaments in Tokyo. His ambitions were checked by some serious Battle Spirit competitors, including 40 year old computer geeks determined to trounce kids a quarter of their age.
One morning Seiji was watching the Battle Spirit tv program from my bed. I woke up with a start. What was that? Then it happened again along with sound affects of a lightening rod. ‘Seiji!! I shrieked. The advertisers are on the attack. “They’re blasting you with lights and anything else they can do to stimulate your buying.”
It was true, Seiji realized. He said that the feeling from watching this show was that he must go out immediately and buy the next installment of cards in the Battle Spirit series–no small money. This box of cards is a 3500 yen investment. An icky feeling overcame him. Seiji looked at me and said, “Mom, I dont want to watch this program any more.”
That was it. Finished. I was elated! The end of a chapter was over, a chapter that I was worried might continue until he reached midlife. But then I must add that drumming had already entered his life, and his teacher Montana is so inspiring and authentic that Seiji in just a few months was able to see truth from fantasy. Thank goodness he discovered on his own that the source of his own power can’t be found in any deck of cards.
As a cardmaker, this is a sobering realization. I never intended to make a sequel to the Genesis Cards and still feel this way. But I do have a dream that more and more users of the Genesis Cards will be inspired to create their own decks. Creativity from within is the wealth of a life well-lived. Intuitive art is a celebration of that journey. Positive imagery plants seeds for uplifting thoughts and actions. My son Seiji can feel it even if he can’t quite explain it.