The first time I saw a real advertisement in a videogame was a billboard for Slim Jims in the background of Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2. I feel it introduces a new level of connection between game and player. For instance, if I’m playing NHL whatever year and my avatar skates past a Verizon advertisement as opposed to some made up product, it gives off a more real-world aura. Bogost said “In cases like these, realism usually implies visual authenticity – correct appearances” (54). I agree with this and realize the endless benefits from an advertisement that is permanently embedded into a videogame.
However, I am opposed to Obama’s virtual campaigning mentioned later on in the Branding chapter. Apparently during the last presidential campaign, Obama snuck in promotional ads in billboards on racing games and in the backgrounds of several sports games. This is different than advertising a product. It “made the former candidate appear savvy, current, and young” (Bogost 57). When I read this I couldn’t help but think of a part from the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury in which a disturbing future society burns books and spends all of their time in their TV rooms (entire rooms with walls made of giant screens in which mindless programs are set on an endless loop). The part which I’m referencing is when the main characters wife, who is a product of her environment, is discussing the presidential candidates. She talks solely about their appearance, how one is young and handsome and the other is old and fat, and how such superficialities are going to determine her vote. I feel like this is what Obama is portraying in his advertisements in videogames. In my opinion, being young and technologically savvy should not determine votes.