Occasionally, the video game industry puts out some great ads. Sony's recent Michael ad, for example, was a clever and well-produced shout out to the gaming community. Even low-budget ads, like Nintendo's ad for the original Smash Brothers, which featured adorable mascots getting into a sudden knock-down, drag-out fight, can be remembered with fondness by gamers.
This column is not about those ads. This is about the terrible ads that the industry often unleashes upon the hapless viewing public. Whether they're boring, fail at being cool, or are just plain lame, many video game ads should have stayed on the drawing board. Of course, all industries have plenty of bad ads, but there are several trends that are common to video game industry ads. These are the trends I find the most cringe-worthy:
People Getting Sucked Into Games
I'm sure that the first ad to show a player being sucked into the television and walking around in a game world was quite clever and original. The problem is, that ad was probably for Pong. This idea has been done so many times that it now comes off as cheesy and unimaginative. Seeing somebody get sucked into a game in a commercial doesn't create a feeling that the person is immersed in the game anymore. It just causes people to snicker at the low-budget green screen work involved.
This Game Is Extreem!It shouldn't be difficult to make video games look cool. Video games are pretty cool, as a general rule. Still, some ad agencies don't seem to be satisfied until their commercials use a string of no-longer-popular slang terms, blast the loudest music they can find, and pretend that their game is going to make your head explode. No matter how hard these commercials try, though, they can't avoid the fact that gaming is not an extreme sport.
Fortunately, most major ad agencies have figured out that forty-year-old executives don't do a good job pretending to be teenagers, and that attempts to be too cool have a tendency to backfire. We can now forget that the 1990s happened until the next hapless game commercial tries to convince us that a game is going to be "totally rad."