EA In Trouble For Using Scared Moms As Game Bait

Electronic Arts' Dead Space 2 marketing campaign is in trouble. And not just for being incredibly stupid.

Well, actually, it is, since a "parent advocacy group" is calling out the campaign for the same reason I think it's stupid: it completely overshoots (and in many ways insults) its target market, pandering to a demographic that won't (and shouldn't) even be looking at the game, let alone buying it.

If you haven't seen it, the campaign focused on the reaction of mothers to the game's gorier and scarier moments. It closes with "Dead Space 2. It's everything you love in a game, and your mom's going to hate it."

What is this, 1993? Does Dead Space 2 do what Nintendon't? Dead Space 2 is a game rated Mature, meaning it's pitched at people who at their youngest are 17 years old. But these "moms" in many cases look more like "grandmothers", which makes things worse: either EA is pitching the game at kids who think pissing off their parents is cool (kids who shouldn't be playing the game), or it thinks the children of these women - who would be in their twenties and thirties - think pissing off their parents is cool.

Neither scenario makes EA look too good.

Believing EA's intentions were more sinister than lame, Common Sense Media has urged the Entertainment Software Ratings Board to "sanction Electronic Arts for creating an ad campaign that would be irresistible to teens and younger boys".

"We think it violates the ESRB's Principles and Guidelines for Responsible Advertising Practices," Common Sense's president Patricia Vance writes. "The question is does the ESRB stick up for kids or not."

I'd say it merely violates the guidelines for making ad campaigns that don't suck, but if the ESRB want to get involved, by all means, knock yourselves out.

For its part, EA obviously believes it's done nothing wrong, saying the campaign had to be cleared by the ESRB before it could run. Which it did.

Parent advocacy group hates EA's 'Your mum Hates Dead Space 2' ads [LA Times]


Comments

    I'm wary of anything calling itself "Common Sense Media".

    It's easy to look at ad campaigns and see sinister, youth-corrupting messages, but in this case I think the ads are just incredibly dumb rather than devious.

    I can imagine the rebellious nature that this advert would cast on teenagers, every teenager hates their parents, it's the stereotype.
    All these adverts do is provoke under age purchases.

    I don't think anyone has thought this through yet.
    By pissing off the Mums, who is gonna buy this game for an under-ager?
    No more high pitched screams of 12 year olds in multi-player? Yes please.

      Unless they're these screams

      http://www.kotaku.com.au/2011/02/boy-screams-as-he-is-locked-in-an-invisible-prison/

    EA are idiots, I don't think their devious though.

    So in other words, EA aren't in trouble at all, they've just pissed off a parents' advocacy group.

    [email protected]

    I thought the same thing -

    In the US, games are not regulated by the Government - anyone can buy any game at any rating, providing that the seller is offering to sell the game. In the US, the industry is supposed to self-regulate, that is, to try to only sell games to those of the appropriate age. Dead Space 2, which is a solid game, is squarely aimed at the 15+ demographic. Personally I didn't see anything in the game that your average 14 year old couldn't handle, but it's SUPPOSED to only be sold to adults or "mature" persons.

    But the ad is almost certainly targeted towards Minors - saying "hey, kids, your MOM doesn't want you playing this!". Aside from being..... stupid, the ad encourages kids, who EA supposedly doesn't want playing the game, to buy the game. EA is supposed to discourage kids from buying DS2, but the ad is aimed AT KIDS.

    And to those who say "it's not aimed at kids" - if you're a "mature" person, who is of the appropriate age to play it as according to the ESRB, then whether or not your Mother likes it is immaterial. Mature gamers frankly don't care if their mother likes the game they are playing, and the mothers of mature gamers often don't care what their sons and daughters are playing.

    No, these DS2 ads are aimed at kids. I'm not going to pretend that EA have committed some sort of "great moral crime", because, frankly, DS2 isn't all that horrific or immoral - violent and bloody, but nothing I couldn't handle when I was 12 or so.

    But it does mean that EA are a bit hypocritical - in that it supposedly claims it is a part of the self-regulating system that has kept the government out of the regulation of games, while also advertising a game that it itself says is not for kids, TO KIDS, with an advertising slogan/trick that only works ON KIDS (unless you're an adult who allows his/her own mum to decide what games they buy... and if so, that's pathetic).

    It's marketed to 15 year olds in Australia and until we have a higher rating then 15 year olds will get it or it will be RC'd.....it wasn't. They marketed to those who can get it in Australia.....excellent protection with our perfect ratings system. Two thumbs up.

    It's good to see someone calling them out on this idiotic add. I agree that it panders to a demographic that shouldn't be purchasing it.

    I HATE this industry sometimes.

    The double edged sword of these 'stupid' ad campaigns that companies run is that they work. Dead Space 2 got a ridiculous amount of attention in both game and mainstream media for a crank commercial campaign that probably cost them about 5 grand to make.

    I've had my wife, parents and people at work asking me about the game because of these commercials.

    It's a funny thing about ads, the really bad ones are sometimes even more effective than the really good ones.

    On a side note it irks me a little when people on these game forums go all Mrs. Lovejoy and harp about games not being for adolescents and children.

    Yeah I said irked.

    Personally I grew up watching and loving Aliens, Predator, Terminator, Conan, Army of Darkness and dozens upon dozens of other films and comics that were definitely not for my age group. It's what made me the grown up gamer geek I am today, and like my father before me I let my kids watch movies and play games that are above the OFLC recommended guidelines.

    Give kids a little more credit people, you used to be one after all.

    I think this is one of the most accurate advertisements I have seen in many years.
    I have seen ads for deodorant that attracts beautiful Women to the user like flies are to shit. I've seen some that promise a body like Kate Moss if you strap a few electrodes to your arse a couple of minutes a day and others that claim a boost in self confidence is awarded if you plug some fake Wombat hair into your scalp.
    Now the others I'm a little suspicious about but I do know that my Mom definitely hates Dead Space 2.
    Can we do anything about the other adds? I feel so ripped off with my desperate and dateless BO stinking, fat arse cue-ball head image.

    I agree that this ad is in many ways accurate.

    Lets be honest; going to horror movies and looking at online porn and reading "bad" novels etc. is more or less a tradition.

    Classifying something as "not for kids" automatically creates a Forbidden Fruit Effect. Younger people with higher levels of psychological reactance (i.e. likelihood to rebel against anything they consider an infringement on their personal autonomy) will be more predisposed to purchase it.

    Many horror films are rated "for adults." But many of the people that watch these films are teenagers that enjoy doing things that are traditionally reserved for older people.

    Aaron is completely correct. The fact is that many younger persons can deal with this violent content and not be psychologically warped by it. The classification guidelines (which are in fact stricter for games than films; MA rated games tend to have the same level of violence as an M rated action movie) are arguably overly cautious.

    Cashing in on rebellious teenagers has been done by all forms of media. Music (especially rock and rap) is the most obvious example. None of this is especially new and nor is it automatically evidence of lacking artistic value. Personally, I think the world would be better off if human cultures placed more value on anti-authoritarianism and independent thinking (yes, cheap "buy this to piss off your folks" isn't exactly independent thinking, its simply reverse-conformity. However, its a start and helps encourage an attitude of 'question traditions, authorities and institutions.'

    Yes, in some respects EA's ad campaign might be considered a bit detrimental towards gaming's push to be recognized as a normal, mainstream hobby. However, I and I'm sure some other gamers would prefer if this current trend of Normalization/Hollywoodization/Institutionalization of gaming were to either cease or reverse.

    With all of the above said, I think that the advertisment is indeed immature. For one, it doesn't actually say a lot about the product itself; it appeals so blatantly towards "piss of the folks" (an attitude which, yes, does have some value but only as the starting point for further development) that it more or less bypasses the question of "will this game entertain the player?"

    So yes, whilst I do find the ad to be distasteful, I don't think EA is doing anything which hasn't been done before by other kinds of media. Additionally, "parent advocacy groups" with names like "common sense media" are usually Astroturf for socially conservative pro-censorship campaigns that never cease to deploy the "think of the children" argument in their zealous attacks on liberty.

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