The Business of Manipulation

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The Business of Manipulation

Why gamers despise marketers, but cannot get enough marketing.

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Nice to see the issue of marketing from a different perspective than just a gamer criticizing marketing techniques. I hope a lot of advertising agencies see this article, they could learn a thing or two.

Agreed that a lot of agencies should see this...

Very interesting :D good read! I'd like top have some kind of career in gaming so all information is useful!.

Could this be in itself a subtle marketing ploy? Drawing attention to some tricks to distract from other ones?

Probably not. Very well written, informative, and the perspective is refreshing.

Some good points are made but I get help but get that preaching to the choir feeling here. As the article itself says, we gamers are pretty much on to a lot of the mistakes that marketing companies make. For us it's more a case of "lol didn't company X make the exact same mistake on the last game they were trying to hype?" I'm always for interesting written commentary here, but this is really an article that should have skipped the Escapist altogether and just gone straight to the big game companies and their associated marketing groups.. printed on poster board.. in a giant red bolded font.

A superb article! I've always been amazed by the crazy marketing campaigns some companies do and actually think they'd work. It's like they always understand the other way around how the gamer thinks and functions. Hopefully there are more people who see things as Mr. J.P. Sherman here.

An interesting thought though: I've been reading some of Valve's demographics-targetting/game-testing/game-designing techniques from here and they make it seem so easy to take input from the gamer and their needs and apply it to make great games, but it's definitely not. They're either extremely talented or extremely lucky.

On underestimating gamer's intelligence was he talking about Sony's psp blunder?

As a marketing copywriter myself, it warms my heart to see someone from the other end of the story step up and join the dialogue.

More companies need to do this. It is not the case that marketers are mustache twirling hollow suits who never learned the true meaning of Christmas. Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to reading more.

laryri:
Nice to see the issue of marketing from a different perspective than just a gamer criticizing marketing techniques. I hope a lot of advertising agencies see this article, they could learn a thing or two.

I hope a lot of gamers read this. The world of marketing is a constant battle between agency and client, creative professionals and account executives, broadcast and audience. It's a much more complex business than it is often given credit for.

More marketers need to join the conversation like this.

I... A videogame marketer admitting that they do ba things?

NO! THIS IS A TRICK! I DISBELIEF THE ILLUSION! UNLOCK THE BOMBSHELTER!

Good to see that there are some game marketers willing to admit that there are problems with the marketing industry. I'm sure there are more people who know this, but it's good to be reminded every once a while.

I agree, this article needs to be seen by some powerful marketers and gamers.

This article is awesome. And considering I went to school for Public Relations, and hope to get in the video game industry, I'm looking forward to more good reads.

ShredHexus:
Could this be in itself a subtle marketing ploy? Drawing attention to some tricks to distract from other ones?

Probably not. Very well written, informative, and the perspective is refreshing.

While I'm of the opinion that nobody it at least yet actively doing that here, I wouldn't put it past anyone, but then I'm a bit off in the deep end without any water wings :P

Good article, I especially like the point about marketing for gamer girls. I find many of those Imagine titles condescending. I usually go for story and character interaction, but some girls enjoy the weapon selection etc, so instead of stereotyping genders I like the point about highlighting different aspects so those interested in the categories can learn more about it.

I dont mind marketing, but, its only people who literally try and thrust it in my face that really, really get my backup...

Advertising is great, as, long as its not reiculous...like, say the human avatar

Great article. I am not a professional in the field or anything, but i am often disgruntled by sloppy marketing and the sight of someone succumbing to sloppy marketing, i guess your article is informative to both sides. You seem to know your stuff. Plz write more? And in the meantime ill be checking out your website. Oh, was that the intent in the first place? :)

Great read, and if I knew anyone in marketing I would say required reading.

I will say this about the firm behind Dante's Inferno, though, they learned from their mistake. After the fake protests and "acts of lust" issue were over, they managed to turn in a uniquely interesting ad campaign targeting the reviewer blogs rather than trying to play to the general population.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/98241-Dantes-Inferno-Ads-Buried-in-Web-Site-Source-Code
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/94584-EA-Tempts-Media-to-Sin-With-Dantes-Inferno-Promotion
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/96316-Send-Megan-Fox-to-Hell-With-Dantes-Inferno-Facebook-App
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/95781-EA-Rickrolls-Yahtzee

They really managed to turn that around, and I think that happened after they actually LISTENED to the backlash from their first couple of stunts.

I really and truly hate the "hot chick" trick people use from the very bottom of my heart, so many gaming sites are guilty of thinking that letting a good looking woman with a babe accent open her mouth is going to drive legions of horny males to their site. Especially IGN.

I literally cannot watch IGN reviews because their incredibly dumb chick makes me lose faith in humanity with every passing second.

TO THE AUTHOR: When the revolution comes, sir, you and yours will be first against the wall. Death to the evil corporate marketing legions, starting with That Guy. You all know who I'm talking about. You know, That Guy. The one who came up with the "Evony Online" cleavage campaign!

(PS - good article, very snappy and informative.)

Much of this makes sense, but it has done nothing to diminish my hatred of marketing. Admiiting to your crimes is by no means absolution.

I've only recently become a 'gamer', so these feelings go back quite a while. One of the things that really puts me off being identified as somebody who plays games is the level of idiocy seen on the consumer side of the transaction and the sheer bloody-minded cynicism and disregard for art and integrity on the behalf of the marketing people.

You don't get that kind of obsessiveness elsewhere, with the possible exception of sport. These people actively fuel fanboys.

/incoherent rant

Excellent article, though. Well-written, and the man clearly has a conscience. And has a better-paying job than I could ever hope to get.

Which handheld is he referring when he mentions a marketing rap song?

It makes it sound quite "evil" when you call giving people promotional material "manipulating people".
It may also glam it up a bit.
Either way, I liked this article and I can't tell you how many times I've groaned at adverts with "skillz" and "xtreme" in their "super-cool youth advert, yo".

And now, a question:
Do you think marketing becomes less effective if a person knows they're being marketed to and the processes behind said marketing?

similar.squirrel:
I've only recently become a 'gamer', so these feelings go back quite a while. One of the things that really puts me off being identified as somebody who plays games is the level of idiocy seen on the consumer side of the transaction and the sheer bloody-minded cynicism and disregard for art and integrity on the behalf of the marketing people.

Uh, yeah... movies, books, art and almost anything that can afford a marketing team or is used by a large group of people has this problem.

Booze Zombie:
It makes it sound quite "evil" when you call giving people promotional material "manipulating people".
It may also glam it up a bit.
Either way, I liked this article and I can't tell you how many times I've groaned at adverts with "skillz" and "xtreme" in their "super-cool youth advert, yo".

And now, a question:
Do you think marketing becomes less effective if a person knows they're being marketed to and the processes behind said marketing?

similar.squirrel:
I've only recently become a 'gamer', so these feelings go back quite a while. One of the things that really puts me off being identified as somebody who plays games is the level of idiocy seen on the consumer side of the transaction and the sheer bloody-minded cynicism and disregard for art and integrity on the behalf of the marketing people.

Uh, yeah... movies, books, art and almost anything that can afford a marketing team or is used by a large group of people has this problem.

It seems worse with gaming, somehow. Maybe it's because the medium is still mainly catering to really juvenile tastes and as the man said, many of us feel insulted by that.

Really interesting read. Thanks for writing and i look forward to next week!

I imagine myself doing a Charlie Brooker on Mr. Sherman.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M48ks2_32-4

I mean, really, punching a marketeer in the face...

...Tempting.

No hard feelings, of course.

I just hope that pushing the idea that there's a huge number of older male, and in fact female gamers, will push them away from the Evony style 'Hey you! look, titties! now click here and download our spyware disguised as a free game!'

I'm not saying older guys are not interested in breasts, or that the younger teen is interested in nother else, just that perhaps the older market in general is a little more sophisticated and sees thru the 'hey, tits' approach. To be honest, as Fusion and others mentioned, we see titties in a game ad, and just think 'Oh God, we're STILL that creepy guy lurking alone in the videogame section to the rest of the world.'

you can lump the whole 'Whoa dude! XXXtreme!!! LOLZOR!' stuff in with the sexualised ads too.

I thoroughly agree that gamers are actually a more savvy and knowledgable audience than the average punter , and this needs to be realised by more marketers.

I also congratulate and salute this guy for daring to come out and expose himself to the wrath of the internet, and as someone's made the Bill Hicks reference, lets give him a chance huh? He wants us to stop being treated like idiots by his peers, even if it's only to sell to us more effectively.

I'll take that if games stop being sold to me like a new range of Power Rangers action Figures or a Will Ferrell movie.

similar.squirrel:
It seems worse with gaming, somehow. Maybe it's because the medium is still mainly catering to really juvenile tastes and as the man said, many of us feel insulted by that.

Movies do that too, that's why Michael "SPLOSIONS" Bay is still filling his mansion with gold plated dodos, as almost every form of media does it.
They're aiming for the "lowest common denominator".

Businesses think everyone's dumb and so they're surprised when "smart" movies sell, when "smart" games sell, etc.
They didn't think there was a market for it because their research guys researched the exact thing they asked for, not the entire market.

It's not exclusive to gaming, movies, books and music will insult your intelligence just as much if given the chance.

Booze Zombie:

similar.squirrel:
It seems worse with gaming, somehow. Maybe it's because the medium is still mainly catering to really juvenile tastes and as the man said, many of us feel insulted by that.

Movies do that too, that's why Michael "SPLOSIONS" Bay is still filling his mansion with gold plated dodos, as almost every form of media does it.
They're aiming for the "lowest common denominator".

Businesses think everyone's dumb and so they're surprised when "smart" movies sell, when "smart" games sell, etc.
They didn't think there was a market for it because their research guys researched the exact thing they asked for, not the entire market.

It's not exclusive to gaming, movies, books and music will insult your intelligence just as much if given the chance.

Then it's probably the relative newness of gaming as an art-form. It seems much easier to avoid terrible books and films.
It could also be the fact that I play console games.

We've all trained our minds to be defensive against superfluous marketing (basically anything other than developer info about a game we're looking forward to) and this is an interesting new perspective on the subject. I was especially intrigued to read about what happens to my e-mail after I enter it somewhere. Would love more articles on the subject.

Try selling it to us instead of marketing it to us. if you have a bunch of cool stuff n a game, all you have to do is tell us. its when you try to trick us inti liking it that we hate it.

The funny thing is that this could easily apply to anything because of how marketable everything is now. Even every part of this article I can apply to politics such as think tanks and politicians. The only sad part is that the stakes are much higher and where gamers normally stop their fanatic state people who participate in politics have no internal brake to question and have doubt.

I know people who get paid to try and maintain the lies that our out of their control but instead of coming clean they continue the lies because it suits the narrative.

I'm rather impressed by this first entry, it's very informative in regards to an integral part of gaming infrastructure.

I look forward to future articles.

Awesome! Thanks for sharing that, for confirming many of my own thoughts on the matter and also adding to them to boot!

Marketing really is one of those ultimate double-edged swords for me in today's society. It can be utterly repugnant and annoying, as in most of the viral types that I see everyday as I walk down the street in a major city, or it can be invaluable, alerting me to something that might interest me.

To me it really is a difference between manipulation and guidance. Manipulating someone by shoving stuff into their face, while they were not initially interested, is for me really not the point of it all (or at least I think it shouldn't be). But guiding prospective customers, by targeting the types of people that might appreciate a product...that I could live with. Though no - hassling people with something that they might appreciate if only you could shove it into their face for a long enough timeframe does not count. :p

Sweet article.

Keep this series!

similar.squirrel:
Then it's probably the relative newness of gaming as an art-form. It seems much easier to avoid terrible books and films.
It could also be the fact that I play console games.

Consoles have their smart games, you just have to look for them.
Mass Effect 2, Assassin's Creed 2, most of them are sequels, developers learning from mistakes.

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