by Jed Pressgrove
On the surface, Terry Cavanagh’s Grab Them By The Eyes is a privileged version of Richard Hofmeier’s Cart Life, trading the latter’s working-class pathos for quick math-based fun. You play as an unassuming hamburger stand owner who finds a natural enemy in two hip-looking youngsters who set up their own hamburger stand right down the sidewalk. A war of words ensues as you and your opponents buy signs to attract more customers. Different messages and visual effects for your signs attract different amounts of customers, but you can’t spend more than your budget allows, and you must take turns with your enemies when purchasing signs. The advertising gets ugly when you have the opportunity to buy a sign that slams your rivals (you can write your own disparaging messages, though they won’t bring as many new customers). Morality didn’t matter while I played; I just wanted to beat the game at all costs. Interestingly, once you learn the game’s logic, you’ll have little trouble winning, and once you win, no new or bigger challenges remain. You’re left with Cavanagh’s ending where the person selling the signs runs you and those hipsters out of business. Grab Them By The Eyes is a minor morality tale, as Cavanagh’s doesn’t connect his ironic conclusion to anything specific, but the lack of extra content after an empty victory suggests conviction about the pratfall of vicious advertising.