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When I first heard about this, I assumed it was some obese guy running around in a Pac-Man mascot costume. Thankfully, that couldn’t be further from reality. It’s actually a giant grid of Pac-Man mazes, user generated, which you can enter and continuously navigate between. It seems to be something that either exists just because it can, or because some marketing guy wants to create a wave of Facebook awareness around Pac-Man, as the Facebook Connect button is pretty prominent. Regular Pac-Man doesn’t mean much to me any more since Championship Edition, so my favourite part of this is that the users are using the mazes as canvases. I know it doesn’t show up well, but on the banner, ‘What he said” is pointing to “I AM SO LONELY.”

I love the spin that executives give their topics to illustrate their perspective, it’s always less about actual verifiable data and more about pushing agenda. John Riccitiello (EA’s CEO) recently discussed both advertising of games and advertising in games at an advertising conference.

The fact that the world is promised to be bombarded by adverts for Battlefield 3 and the next Call of Duty to the tune of $100 million dollars plus shouldn’t really surprise any observant gamer. Almost every company in NZ has been seen advertising on TV, Radio, Billboard and Bus… and I don’t mean my brother’s childhood Dutch friend, for a number of years.

While some parts of his speech ring true, as they should for someone in his position of both immense experience in the industry, and as a person holding the keys to one of gamings’ largest kingdoms. There are also some points that raise my eyebrow.

Primarily the fact that John (and perhaps most other industry suits) seems to immensely overestimate how captive his audience is. My ability to block out everything unrelated to what I am doing in a game is prodigious. If I can ignore my children pestering me about playing with Ben 10 action figures and a Barbie pool party, then overlooking that ‘Axe’ billboard in Ghost Recon isn’t really a stretch for me. At this point in time it seems like the benefit in advertising in games is that it generates interest in the online gaming communities talking about the advertising more so than by actually reaching a passive gamer glimpsing at something in passing as they explode an NPC’s head. Most of us will have recognised ads in the past that didn’t work, and others that seemed to fit in and add to the experience.

There is a rather bold statement that while a person is playing a game they aren’t doing anything else. So no forum browsing, no social network checking, no talking to family/friends, while gaming, and obviously the drinking of alcoholic beverages while shooting the breeze with your E-Buddies isn’t even a possibility. Gaming can be an incredibly immersive activity that sees you engrossed in an experience, but it can also be something very casual that you do between other more essential life activities. @6:06 John also doesn’t seem to be familiar about the activity universally enjoyed while waiting for an game install.

For those interested in hearing more from John about marketing in and for games you can view the entire video here. Beware though. most of the speech comes across as John regurgitating pro gaming industry propaganda as if he’s worried about the audience taking him seriously.