Political Ads in Video Games Impinge on the Right to be Oblivious

For some, gaming is a priority beyond all others in REAL life. Take my friend “Juan Dough” for example. He is a property manager for several apartment buildings that his father owns, providing basic maintenance and ensuring tenants pay their rent. With a minimal amount of time dedicated to actual “work”, Juan has considerable time to pursue other interests which basically include, eating, sleeping, Wii, Xbox 360, PS3 and PSP.

Juan makes no effort to educate himself politically but votes Republican no matter the candidate because his dad told him to. Normally subdued and focused on his “craft”, Juan was all fired up over the fact that Obama’s campaign bought advertising space in his newest game “Burnout:Paradise.” After going into a tirade about how his rights as a consumer were violated, I asked Juan, “Is this going to change your vote?”

To my surprise, Juan was so offended that presidential politics invaded his bastion of escape that he decided this election was not worthy of his vote, period. Call it a win for Obama this time but the lesson I learned was that hardcore gamers tend to be cynical, lazy (when it comes to non-gaming activities), politically unmotivated, impulsive, social (within their sphere) but most importantly, unpredictable.

As long as there’s money to be made, game producers will continue to sell in-game ads. With the right products or services presented the right way, I think it can work. However, most people use video games to seek out adventure and challenges without the associated risk and while I applaud Obama’s efforts to drive people to the booths in November, I’m not sure the Gamer vote is a vote worth pursuing. At least, not while they’re running from the cops with a bullet-ridden stripper in tow.



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