Advergames

Synopsis Advergames – Advertising into your subconsciousness Disposition This paper investigates how advergames and anti- advergames have made a ground in our culture. I will explore how the anti- advergame movement utilizes the procedural rhetoric in order to create awareness. Furthermore I will come to a conclusion about why or if we need the anti – advergame movement. What exactly is advergames? Advergames is a great way to reach out to the consumers in a subconscious manner. Advergames are video games which contains advertisement for a product, service, or company. – Advergames are created to fill out a purpose – often to promote the company or one of the products. These games are often distributed freely as the game is a marketing tool. – Advergames can also be less obvious in their advertisement with product placement in the game. The video games is an alternative form of advertising with some advantages: they are cheap, fast, and have an extraordinary peer-to-peer marketing ability. Advertising within a video game allows for more exposures to the product than traditional ads because, according to Ellen Ratchye– Foster, a trend analyst for Fallon, “anyone who buys these games devotes weeks and weeks to getting through their levels. ” This means that the consumer will see the advertisements over and over while they play, thus it may resonate with them. ”1 Product placement – “Product placement in-game-advertising is most commonly found in sports titles and simulation games. For advertisers an add may be displayed multiple times and a game may provide an opportunity to ally a product’s brand image with the image of the game. – Such examples include the use Sobe drink in Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent – While product placement in film and television is fairly common, this type of in-game advertising has only recently become common in games. “2 1 http://advergamingtoday. blogspot. com/2006/02/just-product-placement. html 2 http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Advergaming What is anti – advergames?

Anti- advergames are games that challenge players to rethink their relationship with consumption and encourage corporate critique. “Advertisers, governments and organizations mount huge campaigns to show us what they want us to see, and we want to expose what they’re hiding,” 3 In order to create awareness for the consumer (or more precisely the player) molleindustria. org and others create anti – advergames. The video games satirize big companies and question corporate polices ranging from how cattle are raised (The McDonald’s Videogame) to low pay for workers (Disaffected! . “I’ve always had a complicated relationship with advertising,” Bogost said. “It’s everywhere, and it’s becoming more and more parasitic. Yet, because it’s everywhere it has the power to influence people positively as well as negatively. ” 4 When attempting to sell games as a persuasive medium, those in the business early on found it useful to refer to this class of games as serious games. Ian Bogost wrote the book ”Persuasive games” where he analysed the rhetoric these games used in their attempt to share information.

Persuasive games – Ian Bogost ”A book about how videogames make arguments: rhetoric, computing, politics, advertising, learning. In Persuasive Games, Ian Bogost explains how companies with the video game as a medium can make arguments and influence players. The games represent how the real and artificial/imagined systems work, and the players are invited to an interaction with the system to form an opinion about them. Bogost analyses the unique functions of rhetoric in software and especially in videogames.

He argues that videogames because of their representation of procedurality open a whole new domain for persuasion, a new form for rhetoric. 5 3 http://www. molleindustria. org/node/149 4 http://www.

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molleindustria. org/node/149 5 http://www. bogost. com/books/persuasive_games. shtml This new form is called “procedural rhetoric” and is a form of rhetoric that is tied to the core affordances of computers which is running processes an executing a rule-based symbolic manipulation. 6 Procedural rhetoric is the practice of authoring arguments through processes.

Computer games are interesting in this regard because they are some of the most complex processes that exist. ”Covering both commercial and non-commercial games from the earliest arcade games through contemporaty titles, I look at three areas in which videogame persuasion has already taken form and shows considerable potential: politics, advertising, and education. The book reflects both theoretical and game-design goals. ”7 The McDonald’s Videogame example McDonald’s video game is a good example of procedural rhetoric. The game was designed to persuade you that McDonald’s business model is corrupt. The McDonald’s Videogame mounts a procedural rhetoric about the necessity of corruption in the global fast food business, and the overwhelming temptation of greed, which leads to more corruption. In order to succeed in the longterm, the player must use growth hormones, he must coerce banana republics, and he must mount PR and lobbying campaigns. ”8 The game makes a procedural argument about the inherent problems in the fast food industry, particularly the necessity of overstepping environmental and health-related boundaries. Critical Play – Mary Flanagan While Ian Bogost’s procedural rhetoric explore the expressive processes in video games, Mary Flanagan examines the theories of critical play which considers how designing a play space in a 6 7 8 9 http://www. bogost. com/books/persuasive_games. shtml http://www. bogost. com/books/persuasive_games. shtml The Rhetoric of video games, Ian Bogost p. 127 The Rhetoric of video games, Ian Bogost p. 127 video game can be a kind of social activism.

Definition of critical Play To Flanagan, critical play “means to create or occupy play environments and activities that represent one or more questions about aspects of human life,”10 and “is characterized by a careful examination of social, cultural, political, or even personal themes that function as alternates to popular play spaces. […] Thus the goal in theorizing a critical game-design paradigm is as much about the creative person’s interest in critiquing the status quo as it is about using play for such a phase change”11.

The connection that this process has with social activism is that the games that people play and how they play those games change in response to culture. The doll example A simple example of critical play in a natural setting is playing with dolls. They are often used to enforce gender roles and stereotypes, many young girls today and in the early days of the doll industry would use dolls to break down social roles. Violent fantasies, macabre funerals, and other forms of changing the way play worked with dolls provides a striking example of critical play in its natural form. 2 10 Critical Play: Radical game design, Mary Flanagan, p 6 11 Critical Play: Radical game design, Mary Flanagan, p 6 12 http://www. popmatters. com/pm/post/128966-mary-flanagans-critical-play Anti – advergames Ian Bogost is one of the founding fathers of anti- advergames and in his book Persuasive Games he describes how procedural rhetoric can be used to understand the problems in our culture. “Disaffected! Does not purport to proceduralize a solution to Kinko’s customer service or labour issues.

But its procedural rhetoric of incompetence does underscore the problem of disaffection in contemporary culture, on both sides of the counter. We’re dissatisfied or unwilling to support structures of authority, but we do scarcely little about it. We go to work at lousy jobs with poor benefits and ill treatment. We shrug off poor customer service and bad products, assuming that nothing can be done and ignoring the reasons why workers might feel disenfranchised in the first place.

We take for granted that we can’t reach people in authority. These problems extend far beyond copy stores. Disaffected has, like the McDonald’s video game, no solution to how we change the problem. The game attempts instead to inform and educate the users by using the procedural rhetoric, showing how the organisation/world through processes affect everyone. The question is, does anti – advergames really have the effekt that Bogost and other gamedesigners think it does?

Its a question with more than one side. On one hand people do get a better understanding of the structure and the core of the message but how is that different form any other campaign? On the other hand we already know that Billion dollar companies may be a little rough around the edges and that morally the best thing (in a perfect world) would be to avoid the products and companies altogether. So why do we need anti – advergames to inform us about the dangers? The point is to create awareness.

There arent any (easy) solution to the problems so the next best thing is to make people aware of how the system works so that we dont stand idly by. This does not mean that the anti- advergames are created in a belief that the user, by playing the video game, is fully enlightened on completion of the game. Often the player already has insight in how the system works as the people who aren’t interested in the critique wont be interested in the game either. None the less designers like Ian Bogost and Paolo Pedercini (molleindustria. org) feel their work will have some effect.

At the very least, they contend, players might start thinking about corporations in new ways. The games, Pedercini said, “can make people ask some questions, and for instance read a book or consider that there are a lot of motivations to change their lifestyles. “13 Brad Scott, director of digital branding at Landor Associates has an other opinion: “I don’t know that they would have that negative effect on the brand,” Scott said. “You can almost use it as, ‘Boy, we’ve become such an icon as a brand that we’re being mimicked by video games. ” 14 I cant say which statement I think is correct but I think that advergames are a great way of advertising. There is an enormous amount of people who play video games, “according to the Interactive Digital Software Association, as many as 60% of Americans over age 6 play them. Putting that statistic together with the number of people using the internet, you have a phenomenal amount of people you can market to. “15 This great area of potential would of course be a great place for marketing, both commercial and non-commercial.

It would be a waste not to utilize it especially if the people aren’t as offended or as immune as to other of the more traditional methods of advertising. 13 http://www. molleindustria. org/node/149 14 http://www. molleindustria. org/node/149 15 http://advergamingtoday. blogspot. com/2006/02/just-product-placement. html 7 Digital Kultur Conclusion Advergames are becoming more and more popular as the availability to the internet increases. The video game is like any other media being used to the benefit of the marketing industry and why not?

The anti – advergame movement with Ian Bogost criticise the marketing industry for being omnipresent and overpowering in its behaviour but is itself a game that has an agenda. Despite all, the anti – advergames are needed. The goal is not to come up with a solution, but to create awareness, and that is exactly what they do. We have an anti advertising forum in any other media, why not in the video games? 8 http://advergamingtoday. blogspot. com/2006/02/just-product-placement. html http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Advergaming http://www. molleindustria. rg/node/149 http://www. bogost. com/books/persuasive_games. shtml http://www. popmatters. com/pm/post/128966-mary-flanagans-critical-play http://www. molleindustria. org/node/149 Texts Ian Bogost, ‘The Rhetoric of video games, in The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning, Cambridge, MIT Press, 2008 Ian Bogost, ‘Procedural Rhetoric’ [extract], in Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 2007 Mary Flanagan, ‘Introduction to Critical Play’, in Critical Play: Radical Game Design, Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press 2009 9

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