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Shampoo, Insurance, Heavy Rain

Susan Arendt | 14 Jan 2010 21:00
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Gaming has made serious inroads towards mainstream acceptance, but there are still huge obstacles to overcome if consoles are ever to earn their spot alongside DVD players and bookcases in our living rooms. Gaming is expensive, confusing, and misunderstood, but worse than that, gaming suffers from a serious lack of face time with Joe and Jane average. Short of misleading reports on Fox News and the occasional spot on The Today Show, gaming is about as much a part of the average non-gaming person's life as monster trucks are of mine. I genuinely believe that more people would be making the effort to play games if they simply knew more about them, but they don't even know what they should be asking about or where to start. There's no easy solution to filling that information gap, but I think we should start with an old standby: the TV commercial.

It's entirely possible that you, being a particularly savvy 'netizen, don't watch traditional TV anymore, but it's still how the vast majority of the American populace entertains itself on a nightly basis. There's a reason that commercials in popular shows cost a mint - because they're seen by millions and millions of average consumers just looking for new things to make them happy. The idea of launching a major motion picture without first carefully orchestrating a TV ad campaign is laughable, so why aren't we doing the same thing for videogames? The immediate answer is, of course, money. Though ads for games like Mirror's Edge, Uncharted 2, and Street Fighter IV have run recently, they've been relegated to cable channels like Comedy Central and MTV - networks the target audience is likely to be watching. Only titles that are virtually guaranteed to break the bank, like GTA IV or Wii Fit stand a chance of being aired somewhere more prominent. And by "prominent," I mean "with more viewers, and therefore more expensive ad slots."

Games only have so much marketing budget to go around, and rather than dropping a huge chunk of change on a TV ad, it makes far more sense to spend it on full-page spreads in EGM or on banners on a gaming site like this one, because that's where people already predisposed to buy games are likely to see them. I get it. But I'm convinced that there's an audience out there that isn't buying games not because they have no interest in playing, but simply because they're unaware of the kinds of experiences they can be having. If they don't think games are still something for losers or kids, they think they're all about killing aliens, killing hookers, or killing alien hookers.

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