Television advertisements are usually boring or insulting. There are the occasionally inspiring or well produced, but as a whole TV adverts have the superb ability of inspiring misanthropy.
And videogame advertising? There is the tried and true product placement, but there are also entire games devoted to selling a single product. There is the promotional video game a la Old Spice’s Dikembe Mutombo 4 ½ Weeks To Save The World, which follows the “brought to you by ____” model, but then there is something like Skrillex Quest:
Skrillex Quest‘s creator, Jason Oda, created the game as a part of a deal promoting Skrillex’s work. He calls it an “advergame,” and it’s not his first: The deal came about when Skrillex came across another totally bizarre game that Oda created, based on the ’80s sitcom Perfect Stranger.
Skrillex Quest is backed up by beats and sounds from Skrillex’s latest album. Oda says he hopes that people who aren’t fans of Skrillex’s music will still give it a shot.
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Skrillex is an evil genius.
A lot of indie games already tend to promote the composers of their soundtracks, but in those situations it’s a symbiotic relationship. SQ is a half hour of exposure to Skrillex for the purpose of making you a fan. Imagine that for television. Imagine watching a 30 minute TV show that is purely about selling you a bar of soap and enjoying it as much as you enjoy your favorite sitcom. Imagine that for print — well I guess we have the Campbell’s silkscreens that Warhol did. Say what you want about him, but I bet he gave soup sales a major bump.
Playing SQ is willfully submitting to advertising, but because it’s advertising a musical artist, its far more powerful than a typical ad. Even if you hate Skrillex, if the games is good it’ll keep you playing. The mere-exposure effect is huge here: you invariably like his music by the end of the game because you’ve spent such an extended period of time with it — time you would never spend on an artist unless you actually wanted to give their music a chance. I turned it off pretty quickly for fear of this effect myself. I imagine if you play SQ to completion, only the utmost self conscious or painfully rational component of your brain could prevent you from lusting after the next bass drop.