The New Zealand branch of gaming headset company Turtle Beach has dispatched a regular Kiwi gamer to Iraq to see "real" war.
For reasons apparently relating to promoting its brand of gaming headsets, the New Zealand branch of Turtle Beach has teamed up with advertising agency Droga5 to send a regular "Kiwi Gamer" (a guy called Phil) on a gratingly real journey through Kurdistan (northern Iraq). Doing so will, they claim, allow the gamer to know what real war feels like. Ostensibly, this has something to do with Turtle Beach's assertion that its headsets offer really "real" audio experiences.
In terms of factual reasons as to why this is a bad idea, many Western governments advise against travel to this part of the world unless it's absolutely essential. For instance, Turkey dropped 10,000 elite troops there in October as the latest move in a decades-old fight with Kurdish militants keen to establish autonomy in Turkish-controlled Kurdistan.
Ben Ward, director of marketing for Fiveight, the New Zealand-owned distributor for Warner Brothers Interactive, SEGA, Ubisoft and Turtle Beach, said that, "Gamers play in virtual warzones every day and night, and they want the immersive feeling of combat...it won't get any more real than this."
It's probably fair to say that Droga5 and Fiveight will have had dear Phil kitted out with body armor, a healthy insurance contract and various other protections. If he'd come to any real harm, their promotional campaign would've been over. Even if we disregard Phil's safety for a moment, though, it seems that this campaign has to be up there with the most over-funded and under-thought of them all. Did they envision gamers responding to Phil going to Kurdistan with awe, saying things like "It just got real!" and getting excited? If you Escapists can think of any solid reason for these companies doing this beyond the shock factor, please do respond.