The little tank that could
When I need to decompress, one of my favorite joys in life is playing videogames alongside my 14-year-old son. Not just any videogame, but the tank simulation game, War Thunder. I love it. I’d be embarrassed to share the number of mont.…errr, hours, I’ve played it.
War Thunder is an ultra-realistic battle simulator with life-like graphics and physics models and tank variants ranging from some of the earliest ever developed to, just released a few weeks ago, the ultra-modern Abrams M1-A1.
But, to be perfectly honest, there are many on my randomly-assigned team who’d prefer that I wasn’t. I can usually tell their displeasure because they try to shoot me from the moment I spawn into the game (don’t worry, friendly fire is harmless in this game). Either that, or they report me to the game’s administrators.
Why, you ask?
Because, rather than choose the tier-9, ultra-modern M1-A1 Main Battle Tank that shoots depleted Uranium shells that can penetrate most any armor and uses a jet engine for propulsion—I prefer to drive the teensy tier-1, M2-A2 that sports two tiny underpowered machineguns as its only protection—in tier 9, no less. Oooh, the outrage.
What really drives my teammates crazy is—I win. All the time.
You see, the most common objective in War Thunder is to capture and hold a series of zones. The team that holds the most zones wins. The best thing about the M2-A2 is that it is tiny. Tiny and really really fast.
Now, there’s one sin that, if I perpetrated it, my teammates would have a legitimate gripe. And that’s when a fast tank like mine rushes for the closest zone and deprives the rest of the team of “respawn points” by “capping” (capturing) the zone before they have had a chance to share in the victory. But, as I said, that is not what I do.
Instead, from the moment the game starts, I race as fast and far as I can to capture a “deep zone,” one that would take the lumbering main battle tanks half the game to reach even if they didn’t have a determined enemy shooting at them every step of the way. By capping the deep zones, it deprives the opponent of the opportunity and gives my team an edge. Meanwhile, I only have to hold it until those lumbering main battle tanks finally arrive. To do this, I’ve adorned my M2-A2 with armfuls of tree branches until it looks like a bush. Then I just sit there.
Disguised as a bush, I’ve had as many as five of the opponent’s main battle tanks circling just inches from my tiny tank. But, like my own teammates, they’ve come to expect that everyone should be driving main battle tanks. So convinced, in fact, their minds don’t allow them to see my tank literally sitting inches from the barrel of their gun.
And that is where War Thunder’s life-like simulations can be the most realistic of all. Especially for those in advertising and marketing. After all, how many times do you see marketers reach for the tried and tested—the expected, and rely on it for every occasion, regardless of the objectives? In life, as in War Thunder, it happens more often than it doesn’t.
Meanwhile, sometimes the quickest route to victory is to simply reach for the solution that nobody is looking for, the least expected. To zig when everyone else zags.
So, next time you’re at your desk and you discover your competition has gone with the “main battle tank” yet again, go ahead—deploy your tiny tank.