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Persuasive Games | Notes

In my first attempt reading this book, I was not very successful at pulling the information I needed from the text, and I thought it was dry and the presentation of ideas progressed too slowly. I gave a it second chance after a few weeks and decided to start reading from the chapter which had the information I needed the most, and went back to previous chapters if I was confused and required more explanation of a specific subject. This system worked much better. Now, I think that there are very solid and applicable theories in this book to learn and build upon. It is actually a very rich source that I for designing a game that aims to make a point. Even though I could not consider and apply all the aspects covered by the text to my current project (Collaborative Unit), I can see myself referring to this source many times in the near future.

Rhetoric: Persuasive expression

Video games open a new domain for persuasion, thanks to their procedurality (their core representational mode).

Procedural rhetoric: the art of persuasion through rule-based representations and interactions rather than the spoken word, writing, images or moving images. - Practice of using processes persuasively or persuading through processes.

It is tied to the computer; computers run processes, execute calculations and rule based symbolic manipulations.

Video games are unique artefacts bc: other types of artefacts created by a computer do not rely on the computer in order to bear meaning, but video games do.

The Current State of Advertising Games

"Videogame-based demonstrative advertising would reveal the use of a product in the game, providing direct information. Videogame-based illustrative advertising would communicate the existence of products in the game and highlight their incremental benefits. And videogame-based associative advergames would correlate the product with an activity or lifestyle represented by the game, providing indirect information. Of the three, associative games are most prevalent, but demonstrative games dovetail most closely with procedural properties of the videogame medium." (158)

Associative advergaming example - Jack Daniels sponsoring a pool game. Logo is visible in the key locations of the game. The game attempts to correlate a lifestyle activity with a product (whisky) one might consume during playing pool.

Illustrative advergaming example - General Mill's Cinnamon Toast Crunch breakfast cereal game. Player controls a cartoon character that collects his wind-scattered breakfast cereal before start of school.

Demonstrating advergaming example - Slam-dunk game by Nike Shox basketball shoes. The game simulates the physical properties of the shoes, offering the player a chance to consider the tangible benefits of the product as a core part of the experience. Presents the product in its natural context and allows the consumer to experience the product within the virtual gaming space.

Mountain Dew Skateboarding - player skates around an outdoor arena performing tricks for points. The player must keep the Mountain Dew Power meter from expiring. To refill it player collects MountainDew products scattered through the environment. The game tries to extend that brand's ongoing efforts to associate its high-caffeine composition with high-energy activities life skateboarding. This technique does not principally seek to demonstrate the tangible benefits of the product, instead it elevates the product as a token of positive, but anonymous value.

Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool -The game's goal is the quest, and the Cheetos provide incremental advantage in reaching it. Still the instrumental value of the snacks remains abstract. (160-161)

"Based on research suggesting that women over 35 comprise the majority of online casual game players," (161).

"The contemporary approach to advertising games relies on the game experience as an end in itself rather than as a bridge to activities in the material world," (164).

Licensing and Product Placement

"Simulations are always representations. They present biased perspectives on the function of systems and situations in the material world. Procedural rhetoric takes advantage of this tendency to make claims about how things work in the world. In domain of advertising, videogames deploy procedural rhetoric when they simulate player-consumer interaction with products and services rather than merely simulating advertising through the application of images into virtual environments." (173)

Unlike a branded t-shirt, "the videogame has to allow the player to do something meaningful inside its interpretation." (175)

Harry Potter games as an example - "Harry Potter games do more than just recreate the experience of the film while giving the player the ability to take on the role of a favorite character and act out a familiar plot."

"The game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban gives the player the control of the triumvirate of Harry, Ron and Hermione. The player controls one character at a time, with the option of switching between them at anytime. This perspective shift is accomplished via a procedural representation of teamwork. Because different characters learn different spells and gain unique abilities, it is impossible to make progress using just one." (176)

I think overall the author wants to say:

1) Utilise the entire interactive procedure of the video game to make the player realise something instead of telling them directly by writing, images, cut-scenes and etc.

2) Create and use mechanics which are relevant and meaningful to your topic/brand/product in order to make your point.

3) Do not make a game for the sake of promoting a product/idea, but make it for the sake of creating an artefact and make your point the core feeling of the game which people reach it through play.


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