Wednesday, April 9, 2008

This Space For Rent

I was reading Hib's thing on product placement and advertisement in games and then I started writing a response but it got too long so I decided to just come over here and do it so I can check it for brainfarts and go off on tangents and expand on it however I want without having to worry about my language and shit heh.

First off, games with a modern setting only have one thing to worry about when it comes to junk like this.

And that's that it doesn't put-off the audience.

Just like movies with product placements, there's an art to doing it so that it doesn't distract from the movie too much, if every billboard in the game has an ad for Hummers on it, that'll suck, 'cause it'll become Hummer World that yer jumping around with yer super hero heh.

Which is where the mental associations people have with Hummers (or the people who drive 'em heh) might have a little bit of an impact on your game, and the way you are perceived, as an artist, y'know?

Even though limiting ads to billboards and in-game TVs and cans of pop on kitchen tables and stuff is a pretty good way to do it, I guess, I mean, compared to making you watch big splash page commercials or some shit like that.

You still gotta do it good, and you can fail.

Product placement is always a distraction though, y'know, I mean, if there's a car radio on in a Tarantino movie, and it plays some commerical with singing mice or something, then its usually supposed to be funny or provide some socially sarcastic color or commentary to a character's personality or set the mood for something that's gonna happen in the movie, and not a real ad.

Y'know, like, what was that Italian Vogue scene from Death Proof, really.

Was it an ad for Italian Vogue?

Yah, definitely, hot chicks blabbering about how great it was, some clerk selling it to 'em for big money, sure.

Although mebbe it wasn't consciously done, some part of his brain definitely wanted to get in good with the hot chicks of Italian Vogue Culture, at least heh.

But could it have been just any old magazine that wanted to advertise in his movie?

Naw, it wasn't like that.

Not that MMO games are really at a stage of immersion and art and shit where distractions like that matters much compared to all the other immersion breaking distractions heh.

But one day, mebbe, y'know.

But then you get into any other kind of settings, besides a modern one, and you either gotta mess with the products and the way the commercials work a lot, to make 'em fit, or you can't even fit them in the thing at all, or even worse, you wanna make fun of 'em, and marketing in general, or something, like in a scifi thing, or talk about how crappy some kinda beer was or something heh.

I think a post apocalypse game (or movie) can get away with a lot of that stuff better than just about anything, though, y'know, with like, Coke Billboards covered in radioactive dirt and grime or a cult of survivors that worships plastic shit from the 80s or something.

'Cause there's that "nostalgia" theme in post apocalypse stuff, glory to the "golden age of picket fences and pizza delivery that is behind us forever," and shit like that.

And finding a can of Campbell's Soup or a Twinkie or a Corvette engine or a scorched Cabbage Patch Doll in the rubble is very immersive, it ties you to the fact that this wreckage used to be the Real World.

And in that case, finding something that is only like a can of Campbell's Soup would be a distraction, 'cause it would tie you to the fact that this used to be some other parallel universe that didn't have Campbell's Soup or something.

So there's settings where it could fit really well.

But will game companies make a lot of Mad Max games now?

Just so they can cash in on its awesome "everything goes" and "just scan in the label" advertising power?

Man I hope so, that's why I been advertising the idea to 'em all sly and stealthy and shit right now heh.

But as far as all the other possible settings go, its not that easy.

And its always a distraction, or worse, something that actually forces you to monkey with your themes and keeps you from doing something you wanna do, causing you to be more and more disingenuous and smarmy and even predatory toward your audience, and blah blah blah, downward spiral.

Its always a place where the guys running the game (or making a movie) are handing at least a little bit of their artistic control and the things they're associated with over to somebody else for money, instead of doing it however they want and controlling all the mental associations in order to make the game (or the movie) more entertaining to the people playing it, and for that purpose alone.

And then mebbe trying to get some money out of the Italian Vogue people that inspired their scene afterwards, y'know, if you actually ended up with anything like that by what mighta seemed like happy accident (but wasn't really heh).

I mean, even if we start talking about bad beer, we're eventually gonna start blabbering about the kinda beer we actually like, y'know, just by process of elimination.

And then it might be good time to see if we can collect a check for the way we vigorously defended Bass Ale or something from all the Europeans that know better heh.

But even if we only do that, we still might need to go back to our bad beer conversation and check what we said about Budweiser, just to make sure they can't sue us, now that we're in the pocket of Bass Ale.

Well, whatever, I'm gonna turn the radio on in my spaceship and find me some Cameo, ow, and then I'll just turn it off when they start playing "nostalgic" Eagle Man car insurance commercials from 200 million years ago, or when the Intergalactic Pepsi Confederation tries to get me to enlist in their army to do battle with the Dreaded Coke Hun, 'cause I can do anything I fucking wanna do ahaha.

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