It was an early San Francisco morning the first time I saw this ad. I was at a Forza Motorsports 6 prelaunch event and the PR rep had gathered the games media in front of a giant high definition television screen. My body cringed. I was preparing for another full on hit of that familiar flavor of fremdscham that all games media experience. It’s a particularly nauseating feeling I get when forced to watch yet another self-righteous video game advertisement. This industry has a thing for being unflinchingly cliche and full of its own shit, and often when trying to sell itself, it tries to push an image that games are interactive transcension. Within that is a delivery containing all the cheap audio and visual cliches, meant to make me feel emotional, but just make the eyes of my jaded soul roll.
And the poor PR reps that have to upsell these pretentious affairs: I feel for them.
Yet when this Forza Motorsport 6 ad played, my prejudices were pleasantly squashed. This commercial’s narrative premise revolves around the evolution of the driving game genre in a way that I find surprisingly respectful. The product comes off almost anti-narcissistic. Its tagline, “This is what we’ve been driving toward,” could speak for Forza Motorsport 6 itself. But I walked away feeling that this was a message to all of the developers who have worked in the genre.
The final shot in particular, which has the camera chasing a highly detailed car at a low angle as the vehicle roars towards a tunnel — elicits a visual statement that the genre is always moving forward to the next thing. Even beyond whatever point Forza Motorsport 6 is claiming to push it. That’s a uncharacteristicly classy, selfless, visual message for a video game ad.