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I have just watched a new ad for the highly anticipated Dead Space 2, and I really must ask the question: Is this a good idea on EA's part?
I would like to note that Visceral Games and EA claim the footage is from an actual focus group, which EA purposefully filled with mothers (and possibly a few grandmothers). EA showed these woman actual gameplay footage and recorded their reactions. This is the end result.
I have two problems. The first being the whole "Your mom's gonna hate it" tagline. Seriously? Given the current situation with the Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association court case, you would think that somebody over at Electronic Arts would have given more consideration to a campaign like this.
Schwarzenegger's entire agenda when it comes to restricting the sale of Mature-rated games centers around the idea that certain prurient and violent titles are attractive to child-aged consumers. People like Jack Thompson and Hillary Clinton, as well as watchdog groups like the Parents Television Council, take these claims one step further and state that the video-game industry is purposefully luring children to these titles with their "youth oriented" marketing.
I agree that stores should be careful about who they sell games to, but I also think that parents should take responsibility for the games that they buy for their kids. The gaming industry does all it can to warn parents about graphic and offensive content. Because of that fact, I would say that the "M- rated bait" theory is complete bullshit.
Is this really everything you love in a game?
But this ad could be a horribly glaring exception to the rule. Think about that tagline again: "Your mom's gonna hate it." Isn't that precisely the kind of statement that would trigger a sense of rebellion in a childlike mind? Would an older gamer really find this marketing appealing? Here's what an adult would think: "My mother doesn't hate Dead Space 2. She doesn't even know what it is. And why does that matter? It's my money."
EA should be marketing this game like a horror film. Provocative advertising may attract eyes, but sometimes, it can also do more harm than good. And the game is likely to be a hit, anyway, considering all of the buzz it's getting from survival-horror enthusiasts and fans of the original.
It seems to me that the Thompsons, Clintons, and Schwarzeneggers of the world could use this ad as evidence to show how the "evil" gaming industry is out "corrupt" our nation's children. This ad presents the perfect opportunity to make such a point.
As if all that weren't enough, we've also got this little gem of a line: "It's violent. It's revolting. It's everything you love in a game."
The negative stereotype about gamers' uncontrollable blood lust rears its ugly head once again. Only this time, it is EA who is reinforcing the notion. Don't they realize that many critics of the industry have worked hard to associate in-game violence with a prediliction toward aberrant, violent behavior? This is how Doom becomes the scapegoat for an incident like Columbine. In turn, it gives the California governor more ammunition in the fight to get his law enforced.
I play violent games occasionally, but I also like titles whose sole objective isn't killing things: I like solving puzzles, saving lives, and well-written stories, too. So, no EA. You're incorrect. Dead Space 2 isn't everything I look for in a game.
It's irritating enough that media figureheads consistently peg gamers as a community of degenerates and would-be mass murderers. Do really need it from within the subculture, too?