Monday, March 14, 2005

GDC 2005: Serious Games Summit - Advergaming

Case Study: Advergaming for Private and Public Interests
Ian Bogost

Continuing the theme of games as a communicative medium, Bogost gave a great presentation summarizing the current state of advergames (games used to persuade people of something). The second half of his talk tried to tease out what sorts of advertising games are good at. After establishing that games could create a subjective response to a message or product, Bogost claimed that the best advergames actually cause the player to critically engage with the message or product. Therefore, the role of the message/product should be meaningful within the game. The game should embody the experience of the message/product.

Bogost shared an example in which players try to urinate into a toilet while fighting the effects of inebriation. The ad was for a "pacer" drink called J2O meant to hydrate drinkers between pints down at the pub (it's a Brit product). Though advergaming isn't my favorite application of game ideas, I enjoyed thinking of games from this different perspective. Even in an entertainment game, we, as designers, need to consider what messages/products we might, consciously or unconsciously, be selling.


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