A peek into the world of video games and advertising. Part I.

Why do Facebook and other social networks use video games applications more and more to promote various products?Traditional advertising is becoming more ubiquitous than ever before, resulting in a more cluttered media environment where media vehicles carry more advertising and less content. Many consumers are seeking ways to avoid promotional messages altogether by using digital recording devices that allow viewers to skip commercials or by spending time with alternative media choices.

Why do consumers like video games, even those that promote products? Why don’t they continue their practices of skipping video games that promote something? Video game play allows for relaxation. But is it the only reason? Video games as tools for persuasion change the role between advertisers and consumers, because they give consumers greater control over their exposure to advertising.

Does that mean that video games are to stay in the world of advertising as bastions for effective advertising? No. Despite the fact that online video games are a promising marketing tool, the advertising of brands and causes within games has unresolved issues for the video gaming industry. These problems, particularly the lack of clear definitions and distinctions between types of games, might jeopardize the image of video games, which in turn may limit the value of games to advertisers. Moreover, the potential of video games for educational purposes may go unnoticed. The task of next posts about video games that will follow is to explore the main threats/opportunities in the field of video game advertising.

Disclaimer to video games and the threats to their advertising potential:

Even though I will look at “advergaming” for social/political issues, rather than advergaming for selling products, nevertheless, the term “advergaming” can still apply. As defined by Moore, advergaming is a particular form of “branded entertainment” which simply means that a brand has been inserted within an entertainment property (e.g., a product placement in video game). In this case, the political or social cause is the brand.

Similarly, Thomases defined advergaming as the use of online games integrated with a marketing message. Both Moore’s and Thomases’ definitions of advergaming can apply to this project, given that the call for action in both video games represents a form of marketing message.

From a macro perspective, I will look at the debate surrounding advergaming and its use of gaming for persuasive or promotional purposes. On a micro level, I will explore differences between games that sell a product as opposed to games that teach/persuade players about social and political issues. Finally, by interviewing developers about cause video games and analyzing the games themselves, I will examine video games from two different perspectives that may yield different results. I will attempt to reconcile what the developers believe the role of the games is versus the role of games as seen through the narrative analysis of the stories depicted.

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