One of the more interesting chapters I read in Bogost’s book was #7- Branding.
It starts out using Monopoly as an example, which happens to be another game I’ve always loved. This is followed by a quick segue into Monopoly Here & Now, which involves more money, new places, and new pieces. Most notably, the Motorola phone, Starbucks’ coffee, Toyota Prius, and other familiar markers of today’s world. I’ve played this game for free online, and did buy one that came with the actual board and everything.
Then there was an example from The Sims that Bogost kind of skirted over on page 54, in which McDonald’s had a cute little burger stand in the first game. There was also a downloadable Pepsi vending machine that sold nearly every soda made by the company. I remember when I played the game that many of my Sims were fans of Mountain Dew.
Since then, I hadn’t really seen many in-game ads that actually were meant to be noticed. Sometimes I’d see ones on my Gamecube or my Playstation or something in one of the hockey games, or maybe for in-game products. Meh.
I think it was at last when I played Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2 online that I noticed, in the Vegas lights, that I was trying to shoot terrorists hiding behind posters advertising movies I’d just heard about from friends. I did a sort of double take the first time I noticed this. It was like… “Wow. You mean, they can actually do that? Advertise real things in games?” and then I died staring in pure fixation at this poster.
I then read about the in-game Obama campaign ads in Burnout: Paradise and Madden ’09. I may have caught a glimpse of one in the latter, but regardless, I was surprised a bit. I remembered that little snippet of an ad from RSV2, and realized that, hey, this was apparently a thing now.
What I think I’d really like to know is if people are mostly like me, ignoring all the Nike ads in the sports games and insistence on using Fender guitars in Rockband, or if this kind of advertising is actually effective in some way beyond, “Oh hey, that’s cute, they’ve got a poster for The Lego Movie on this billboard. Novelty at its finest.”