As a retail assistant for a major international games store, I would like to personally reprimand EA’s marketing department for making my job just slightly more difficult. If you’re not in the video game loop, allow me to introduce you to a third-person horror shooter called ‘Dead Space 2’ a sequel to another game which received mixed reviews. As you might fathom, the story is about dead creatures attacking a space-station, and due to its violent content, the game has been rated 18 by British regulatory board BBFC, and as M by the ESRB in America. Now, I certainly don’t agree with the terrible and inaccurate blame placed on video-games by misinformed so-in-sos, but I do understand the importance of rating titles. Just like movies, video-games are art forms, not toys, and need to be marketed to the correct demographic. By placing these standards on content the gaming community is being respectful of the law, and of a parent’s/guardian’s right to evaluate what is suitable to their children, and this is down to the individuals involved in purchasing the product, just like films, books and music. Ratings protect the gaming community from the already overwhelming scrutiny of those who simply view video-game media as a juvenile frivolity, not as a legitimate form for expressing stories and ideas.
Close to the release of ‘Dead Space 2’ EA aired a trailer in America depicting middle-aged women gasping and turning away from the game’s violent content, and over shots of game-play a voice-over proudly states:
It’s revolting; it’s violent; it’s everything you love in a game; and your mum’s going to hate it.
Do you see what you’ve done EA? You’ve promoted an 18 rated game to a demographic well below that age range.
When a major video-game distributor openly markets an adult title to teenagers in this way, the respectable image the gaming community has spent years struggling to gain is thrown into obscurity. What’s more this form of advertising doesn’t even do the distributor any good; people are not going to purchase games based on how bloody and violent they are; this emphasis only fuels the unjustified and unproven notion that video-games influence psychotic and irrational violence in young and vulnerable people. Way to go EA, reinforcing a stereotype by promoting the logic that gore and brutality are all games are about. Gamers care about a myriad of features when they choose to invest in a gaming experience; storyline, strategy, and mechanics to name a few, so why not play up the strengths of these aspects unless you can’t offer them. Mature audiences will only feel patronised at your attempt to appeal to the lowest instincts in young men. The ad is providing ammunition to those who wish to illuminate video-games entirely, and just take a look at the thousands of outraged responses from game developers and players concerning this commercial.
When it comes to the stigma associated with Video-Games, GAME retail assistants are on the front-lines, fighting to ensure confused adults know why the content inside games they’re buying are rated as they are. It’s a fantastic opportunity to present games as art-forms directed at their correct demographic, at gamers who simply wish to experience a story in the same way as they might watch films, and help to disparage that old serial-killer-playing-GTA-in-their-parent’s-basement, stereotype. Every few months we undergo Age Related Sales training, reminding us to do so; the gaming community is trying to grow in favour through methods like these. When game advertisements present contrasting ideas, it contradicts everything we’re trying to educate.
Grow up EA marketing, and learn to sell your products based on their merits and suitability. You’re throwing us back to the 90’s with your tactless, pointless ploys,which no self-respecting over 13-year-old is going to be impressed by.