Obama sneaks into video games
Dragunov 765 loves playing Burnout Paradise, the Xbox racing game. However, he didn't expect to find himself staring at a Barack Obama campaign poster after he rammed his car into an electricity pylon. Read more...
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Photo taken by Dragunov 765 and posted on "Rooster Teeth".
Dragunov 765 loves playing Burnout Paradise, the Xbox racing game. However, he didn't expect to find himself staring at a Barack Obama campaign poster after he rammed his car into an electricity pylon.
Puzzled by the Vote For Change.com publicity appearing on a billboard in the middle of his game, Dragunov 765 decided to take a photo of the screen and posted it on the Rooster Teeth forum on 6 October, leading to a small polemic online.
It was confirmed by Electronic Arts (EA), the company behind the game, that the Obama campaign had indeed paid for in-game advertising. Holly Rockwood, a spokesperson for the company told the blog: "Like most television, radio and print outlets, we accept advertising from credible political candidates. Like political spots on the television networks, these ads do not reflect the political policies of EA or the opinions of its development teams."
Obama has bought space in nine games, including skating and basketball games, where he appears on the ads around the court floor. Launched on 6 October, the campaign hopes to get the votes of young men in the key states by pushing them to register online for early voting.
"We only insert ads when it's realistic"
Emmanuel Carré works for the French video game company Ubisoft.
Most of the time, these kinds of players are the ones looking for realism. If they're walking through New York and there's no publicity, then it's not New York.
We only insert ads when it's realistic, like in this case, on a race course. We wouldn't put the same thing in the next Prince of Persia [a game that takes place in ancient Persia]. It's our job to respect the player and not put commercials just anywhere.
This is an attractive deal for advertisers because they know that many people spend more time within closed environments playing video games than outside in the real world. The exposure here is very important, especially for campaign teams, which are always on the lookout for new aids."
"You can also add publicity after the game has been bought"
Patrick Hellio is a journalist for the French interactive media review, the Journal Des Loisirs Interactifs.
In-game advertising follows the same rules as advertising in films - it's product placement. You identify a target audience and insert corresponding branded products in films or games that they might appreciate. The latest James Bonds, for example, have become showcases for several brands.
Apple is particularly fond of in-game ads. They got iPods put into the game Metal Gear Solid 4 for example. But this is the first political ad we've seen in a video game.
The billboard must have been added after Burnout came out [six months ago]. That's something interesting about this type of publicity - it's adaptable. You can target a certain area geographically, and you can also add publicity after the game has been bought, because the consoles are all connected to the internet. So the developer can update the posters to suit the demands of the advertisers - like real billboards. We don't know what kind of budget you need for this; the phenomenon is still in its developing phases."