Don’t get me wrong, I love violence, sick humor, dick jokes and awkward “candid” filming just as much as the next guy. Honestly, there’s no such thing as lowbrow humor as far as I’m concerned. But this new Dead Space 2 ad is completely off the mark.
I’m sure some of you are thinking that I have no reason to consider the ad to be anything less than awesome. Sure, admittedly I felt the same way when I watched it. I chuckled a bit, knowing what I do about the franchise, and then I was ready to move on. The thing is, though, when I came back to consider what I had seen, what the implications were and what the possible fallout could be, I decided wholly that the ad was more than misguided… it was a mistake.
First of all, it’s clear the marketing team considers their fanbase to be on the young side. Why else would the campaign be centered around how much your mother won’t like Dead Space 2? I would have pegged the title to be a favorite of the 18 and older crowd, you know, those that can actually buy it without parental permission. It raises all sorts of questions about the perspective companies like EA have about the maturity of their consumers, but will get to the moral ambiguities presented herein in just a second.
The potential fallout for this is, however, the more immediate concern. Am I possibly making too much out of this one clip? Yes. But when the prosecution in the Supreme Court case about censoring video games relies solely on a game like Postal, how hard would it be for them to incorporate an ad like this?.
Think about it. We, as a gaming culture, are waiting for a court decision due out this summer regarding the sale of mature rated games. As it stands now, there is a chance that it will become illegal for M rated games to be sold to anyone under the age of 18. ILLEGAL. That means parents can’t buy these games for their kids. Mature games will be pushed away from the same classification as R rated movies and towards things like gambling and smoking cigarettes. The industry will take a massive hit and gamers will likely see a dip in mature content. Afterall, why would a company continue to make so many mature games when the potential consumer base is so massively reduced?
Ads like this on only fan the flames. Why drag out, regardless of how staged this whole thing is, a pack of mothers from the bible belt to make a quick joke? Why anger the base of voters that’s already pushing so hard to get rid of our favorite medium entirely? It just doesn’t make any sense. These marketing gurus are placing the almighty dollar over the extended life and perception of the gaming industry and gaming culture as a whole.
Back to the perception of the consumer base on the part of EA. Is it not infuriating for older gamers to see ads like this one? What does it suggest? Well, it suggests that the largest audience for Dead Space 2 is under the age of 18 and living at home. It also suggests that the only reason to love a game is for the sheer violence and brutality it brings to the table. I know, for a fact, that any Dead Space fan I ask will champion the story, presentation and gameplay well over the simple brutality of one of their favorite games.
Look, I know some of you think I’m being ridiculous here. This ad was obviously meant to do nothing more than entertain and pull in a few bucks. I get the joke, I get the appeal and I enjoy it for what it is. I’m just considering what I thought would have been a prevalent conversation in the office that approved this sucker. What are ads like this doing for us as gamers? I truly don’t think they’re helping our medium or its future. And I know that ignorant parents and outspoken idiots will be using this piece as more ammunition. Is it really worth the aggravation?