Welcome to Is This Shoe OK?, an infrequent column about shoes that may or may not be good, as determined by me—an authority, because I own shoes—and you, in the comments below. In today’s installment, we’re looking at a $100 Puma shoe-sneaker dubbed “Active Gaming Footwear.” It even includes “modes”? I don’t know, man.
I’ll begin with a disclaimer: I am not a gamer. The only gaming system I currently own is my brother’s old Nintendo 64, and it exists solely for Mario Kart when a friend is in town visiting and I can convince them that going out isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, so come on, let’s get wine drunk and crash Yoshis. Because I am not a gamer, I am probably not qualified to critique the merits of Puma’s $100 “Active Gaming Footwear” sock-shoe. I can, however, discuss the aesthetics of the kicks, which appear to be goth swim shoes. (Remember swim shoes? If your mom was a germaphobe you might’ve been forced to wear them to the public pool? I had a pair strictly for showering in hostels across Europe and let me tell ya, those smelled pretty interesting when I moved back to the U.S. for college.)
Anyway, according to the Puma website, these shoes were “created with console gamers in mind,” and were “designed for indoor and in-arena use.” The description suggests that they are not shoes, in fact, they are “gaming socks” meant to deliver “seamless comfort, support and grip so gamers can adapt to different active gaming modes and game their best.” So, if I’m getting the gist, they are sock-shoes designed for walking... inside the house? So... slippers? Don’t gamers need to step outside to tip the delivery man and take out the trash and such? Can these even go outside?
Apparently the shoes also allow for different “modes” of gaming: “Medial wrap-up grip in SEEK mode,” “Lateral wrap-up support in ATTACK mode,” and “Heel wrap-up stability in CRUISE and DEFENSE mode.” That might as well have been in another language, because I cannot begin to comprehend what that means. And perhaps that’s the point: these are simple shoes made expensive and specific through branding. “Gaming socks?” What will marketers think of next?
Because this feels like a cheap play to get nerds to buy expensive footwear, I’m gonna go ahead and say these shoes are not OK. They look fine, but it’s the principle of the matter, you know?
What do you think? Is this shoe OK? Is the shoe itself fine, but the branding particularly insufferable? Do you think Puma actively hates gamers and are therefore selling them nonsense they otherwise would never want to purchase? Sound off in the comments below.