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Advertisement Implementation in Videogames

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.



4 thoughts on “Advertisement Implementation in Videogames

  1. While I’m not entirely on-board with political advertising in games, Obama is, to an extent, a product. NHL and NFL games, like the Obama billboard, incorporate real people and real teams into a video game. They package the sport, the players, and the team as a product to be consumer by every gamer. Like NHL players, Obama is a real human being but they are not advertising Obama as, you could say, himself. The NHL players are in the game because they serve the product purpose; Obama serves a product purpose. You could consider him to be a player in the Democrat team, competing against the Republicans – which he is. The billboard packages the Obama product as those old Tony Hawk games package Tony Hawk. Furthermore, perhaps Obama did want to appear young, savvy, and hip, but what do you think Verizon wanted to appear? Perhaps the same thing? What differentiates a human product from a material product?

    Posted by emmajani | May 31, 2013, 10:53 pm
  2. As I am also a player of EA’s NHL series, I defiantly agree with your sentiment that the inclusion of advertisements like Verizon and Tim Horton’s adds another aspect to not just NHL but other games that increases the realness feeling of the game. In regards to your opposition to Obama’s virtual campaigning, I defiantly agree that someone should not solely base their vote on appearance through this medium. However, I also share the same feeling as the above comment in that Obama and other politicians are quite similar to a product that is trying to be sold through advertisements.

    Posted by bgwhipple | June 1, 2013, 12:15 am
  3. I completely agree with your opinion on seeing real advertisements in video games. It definitely makes the game feel more real. Also, from a business point of view, I think it is smart for businesses to advertise their products in games. Even though we may not be paying any attention to the advertisements in the games, we still subconsciously know that they are there and recognize them. As for what you said about political advertisements in games, I also agree. Not only do I agree that the appearance of candidates should not determine votes, but I also agree that advertising a political campaign is much different than advertising a product. Honestly, I hate politics. I never watch the debates and I am obviously not a fan of politicians. I think we see enough campaigning on TV and it should be kept out of video games.

    Posted by sierrasu | June 1, 2013, 11:39 am
    • What makes television a less troubling medium for political advertising than video games? So far, it seems that video games are the only form of media that are not being sufficiently used by politicians. Not only are there commercials during election season, but advertisements on websites, discussions on blogs, television interviews in addition to the debates, newspaper and magazine articles, etc.

      Posted by emmajani | June 3, 2013, 8:02 pm

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