‘Avatar’ Designed to Hack Gamers’ Minds

Today, James Cameron and Co. released a full-length trailer for the upcoming Cosmically Anticipated Uber-Blockbuster known as Avatar

As you just saw, the movie tells the story of a primitive but proud indigenous alien culture defending itself against a human-run technological assault This theme is, of course, nothing new…

The main difference, though, is that Avatar builds in a concept familiar to internet gamers (especially purveyors of MMORPGs). The idea that you can plug into an ‘Avatar,’ who you control, and perform your actions through is a direct reference to video games and an overt attempt at wrangling in the hugely influential gamer demographic.

As if this wasn’t enough to convince studios to fund the project (remember, this screenplay has been floating around in some form since 1994), Cameron seemingly threw in an attempt to co-opt an entire corner of the RPG market. Let’s take a closer look at the native race in Avatar — The “Na’vi.”


Hmm, that’s odd. The Na’vi seem to be a CGI carbon copy of the Draenei race from World of Warcraft, the most popular online role playing game in history. Their inclusion seems an especially clever way of drawing in the 15,000,000 strong WoW contingent without acquiring any copyrights, trademarks, or even making any mention to the source material.

Even the name, “Na’vi,” seems reminiscent of gamer parlance. Nav (or Navigational) Points are often used in games to direct the user to a particular place on the map. In my experience, these came into vogue in the MechWarrior series, which also seems to have a strong presence in the storyline of Avatar (note the remote battle mechs that take on the Na’vi army).

Hmm, co-opting past blockbuster themes, secretly embedding familiar pop culture characters and worlds, and copying other successful works. I suppose that is one way of getting your lame duck screenplay produced. Perhaps, on a meta-level, the movie Avatar is really the avatar of the awkwardly titled World of MechWarrior Craft of the Jedi.

9 Responses to “‘Avatar’ Designed to Hack Gamers’ Minds”

  1. inteliboy says:

    You’re kidding right? If so I apologise for not getting your sarcasm…

    First of all, Star Wars is little more then a pathetic kids franchise these days, you could have a picked a FAR better comparison in terms of plot structure / story then Return of the Jedi. It’s also strange to backup a tired sci-fi geek cliche, when here is a NEW mega-blockbuster sci-fi franchise about to be released, that has all the gears in motion to be lapped up by the geek comunity, is created by none other then James Cameron… and your hating on it? Odd.

    Secondly, by your “Nav” logic, you could look at the word “Nav” throughout society… say “Navigating” on a map, or the “Nav” menus on websites etc… Somehow linking Mechwarrior 2’s nav points, to the Na’vi is ridiculous.

    Thirdly, there is literary hundreds, if not thousands of blue skinned humanoids in sci-fi and fantasy literature / films / games / tv etc. It’s nothing new, and a pretty common “twist” to having pink/brown skin.

    Then again — still not sure if your entire post was just for a laugh.

  2. […] Apparently ‘Avatar’ is really just ‘World of MechWarrior Craft of the Jedi‘ […]

  3. Moji says:

    This is a satire site? The design for the Na’vi predate WoW by a few years, much less its expansions…

  4. Moji says:

    I think your points are all weak, but I’d like to point out specifically that this story borrows much more from reality than it does Star Wars. The Na’vi aren’t Ewoks, they’re basically native Americans during the gold rush and Manifest Destiny periods. The Ewoks also fought alongside the rebels, which are very absent in this movie apparently. Not to mention the Na’vi can talk.
    This seems a lot like a Sci-Fi Pocahontas to me. And who cares? Nothing is “original” these days. It’s going to be good, so just relax. This is James frickin’ Cameron we’re talking about here. Why are you being a meanie?

  5. Greg says:

    I hope the negative commenters are joking, since I had exactly the same reaction as Russ: what exactly is the point of seeing the movie after that trailer (other than spending even more money on cool looking CGI)? I know James Cameron isn’t exactly the poster child for subtlety in film, but unless the trailer is a massive head-fake and the movie is actually more District 9 than Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee meets Return of the Jedi, I can’t conceive of a more tired, heavy-handed moralistic special effect fest.

    By the way, I’m not sure that making a “Sci-Fi Pocahontas” is cause for celebration. No, actually, I’m very sure it isn’t.

  6. Avatar had to be the greatest movie ever.

  7. Ethyl Haab says:

    I love the Avatar 3D film, particularly the story line, not only it brings a totally new sensation but inspiring thoughts of humanity. I heard the New Avatar 2 is comming soon, cannot wait to watch it again…!

  8. Thornbrier says:

    I loved Avatar, and I only got to see it in 2D. Made me cry more than any movie ever. I truly love Becoming stories (aka Making of a Hero stories). And no, I don’t see the connection to Draenie, or to Return of the Jedi. This was way better than either of those anyway.

    Now, drawing in Gamers with the Avatar concept, while I don’t think that was the intention I think it sure does work well. Many gamers do so as an escape from reality, being able to escape from your own sucky life and go be a lithe giant in a whole new world would appeal to almost any gamer.

  9. Owen Murphy says:

    for me, the greatest movie is non other than War of the Worlds.~.,

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