Attack of the Mutant Artificial Christmas Trees
"Attack of the Mutant Artificial Christmas Trees" is a free online video game developed as part of a marketing campaign by the National Christmas Tree Association in 2004. The game was meant to support the natural Christmas tree industry and received criticism from artificial tree producers.
"Attack of the Mutant Artificial Christmas Trees" has been described as similar to a "whack-a-mole" themed game. Players are called upon to pelt mutant artificial Christmas trees with snowballs, while avoiding the elves interspersed between the garishly colored mutant trees. Mutant trees emerge from boxes that are marked "100% Fake" or "Made in China". The trees, as the game says, have "mutated and are sucking the spirit out of Christmas". The game features an "Xmas Spirit Meter" light which dims for every mutant tree missed or elf hit by mistake. Between rounds the game provides "facts" about Christmas trees, or, depending on your point of view, "didactic little warnings about the evils of fake trees".
The game was developed by a Dallas-based Internet marketing firm, Kewlbox; Kewlbox is a launching platform for games created by Blockdot. The National Christmas Tree Association, a trade group representing the Christmas tree farming industry, commissioned "Attack" to press their message that natural trees are the way to celebrate Christmas. The game was released for free download or online play in November 2004.
Salon writer Andrew Leonard said of "Attack of the Mutant Artificial Christmas Trees", "(the game is) diverting for about three nanoseconds — less, if you give in to the urge to pelt the annoying elf, for which you are unfairly punished". Despite Leonard's assessment, the game was played by 75,000 people in the first week of its release. While the game was meant as light-hearted, some artificial tree producers were not amused. The CEO of Balsam Hill Company, a U.S. artificial tree manufacturer, said he was surprised at the negativity of the tree growers ad campaign, adding that it was not exactly "warm and fuzzy".
- Leonard, Andrew. "Attack of the mutant artificial Christmas trees -- from China", Salon.com, How the World Works (blog), December 21, 2006, accessed December 18, 2008.
- Barrett, Rick. "Tree sellers let the fir fly", Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, December 3, 2006, accessed December 18, 2008.
- Munoz, Sara Schaefer. "The Fight Before Christmas: Real Trees vs. Fakes", Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2006, accessed December 18, 2008.
- Wohleber, Curt. "Fake Fir", American Heritage, Winter 2007, accessed December 18, 2008.
- Napoli, Lisa. "Ready, Aim, Splat", The New York Times, December 16, 2004, accessed December 18, 2008.
- Staff. "Attack of the Mutant Artificial Trees Ho! Ho! Whoa! Holiday Game Fun! , Video Game News (gamezone.com), November 23, 2004, accessed December 18, 2008.
- "Attack of the Mutant Artificial Christmas Trees", free online game
- Client: National Christmas Tree Association" Case Studies, Smith-Harroff Advertising Agency
- National Christmas Tree Association, official site