Relatively short one, this week, folks. For one, I’ve had a lot going on in my life and these are the first few hours I’ve had free to actually do stuff all week, and for two, this week’s topic isn’t really all that complex but still needs talking about anyway because JESUS CHRIST.
Now, I’ve covered hatchet marketing jobs before and there’s a reason for that. Gaming is growing up and evolving. Hell, in the last 14 days alone, we’ve seen the releases of Brothers and Gone Home. And if we want to expand that scope further, 2013 has also seen The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, the beginning of the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series, The Walking Dead: 400 Days… all of those represent more mature views of gaming coming through. Games and internet personalities willing to tackle weighty themes, analyse legitimate problems with our industry, try different ways of telling stories in videogames that don’t involve endless parades of foreigners to shoot in the face. I’m not saying that we’ve fully moved past shooting foreigners in the face or the wonders of big, dumb spectacle – the game that I’m going to talk about next week is a very positive example of big, dumb spectacle – but we are no longer fully reliant on them. We’re maturing, moving past the stereotypical “gamer” image that has been stapled to our existence since the “radical” 90s.
Somebody on the Ouya’s marketing team did not get the memo and, last week, we were presented with this advert for their console.
Oh, yeah. It’s bad. But why exactly is it so bad? So very, very, very, very bad? Besides the obvious “it’s offensive to my eyeballs, ears, brain, nose and every other fibre of my being.” Well, as somebody who has spent the last three years of their life stuck on various Media Studies courses in secondary school and sixth form, I feel relatively qualified to pick apart the exact reasons why this advert is hot steaming garbage. No, the fact that I relatively failed my A-Level Media Studies is not relevant to my reasoning for my expertise. Hush, you.
Let’s start with the animation and art style in this advert, shall we? Even before things get gross, it’s still highly unappealing. The limited animation and college-kid-sketchbook aesthetic call to mind something that might have graced an [adult swim]-knock-off back in 2006. It looks overly pandering to an audience that finds Tim & Eric: Awesome Show to be the pinnacle of modern comedy; bored college kids or really bored stoners, the kind that we all took our pot-shots (ba-dum-tish) at about seven years ago. Immediately, the advert alienates the ordinary person, because the art style is too rough, low-class and immature for them to find it relatable. The ad, in less than five seconds, has given off the scent of the Ouya being for teenagers and only teenagers despite most gamers, you know, not being teenagers.
Next is the blatant jab at both Call of Duty and Battlefield. Will there be some people who can relate to the situation on display? Of course. Will there be some people who will like and appreciate the take-that in question? Well, yeah, people be people and tastes vary between persons. Does that still make it OK to put in your advert? In my opinion, no. Why, then? Well, because, again, it feels too much like cheap pandering. Less “it’s happened to all of us” marketing and more “look, see, we get gamers! We understand their problems totally!” It feels too self-consciously patronising instead of relatable. Plus, it’s too cheap a shot, too specific to come across as a light-hearted jab, so it feels more mean-spirited. It’s needless, there’s no reason for that kind of jab to be there.
And, finally, let’s talk about the vomit. Shock toilet humour has no place in an advert for a new videogame system or hardware or whatever the hell the Ouya is (because the advert sure as hell doesn’t bother to tell you). End of. That kind of thing belongs in Family Guy or, again, a highly sub-par [adult swim] show. Why is he even vomiting? In the universe constructed by the advert, there is no reason for the guy to be spewing buckets. Are we supposed to assume that the poor quality of the game coupled with its high price tag caused him to suddenly contract the made-up disease of verbal diarrhoea? Then how is the Ouya supposed to have prevented that? Like, why is he vomiting? Other than for the cheap “oh, OK” laugh? And then the whole pulling his spine out and beating himself to death. Just… why? How does this advertise the Ouya?! What is the correlation between beating yourself to death with your spine and streaming games online?! WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS?!
And, of course, on more simple levels, they’re just f*cking disgusting images that no decent-thinking person would want attached to their product.
There exists a phrase, commonly used nowadays, “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” Quite frankly, I believe that such a phrase is used purely by marketing types who have failed at their jobs and are trying to cover their arses. Yes, this advert raises awareness of the Ouya, but it does so in a way that also attaches the images of fratboy stoner [adult swim] viewers and vomit. One of those should turn off pretty much anyone with a decent sense of taste, whilst the other limits the console to a very specific audience that a) doesn’t really exist anymore and b) we shouldn’t really be courting exclusively anyway. It’s misrepresentative of gamers and gaming in general, and just cringe-inducing separated from everything else. It aims to be a ‘comedy’ advert, but the joke is just bodily excretion and extreme violence. Guess what? Most human beings grow out of finding that stuff automatically funny by about age 13, and seeing this advert incorrectly assume that anyone not at the age of 13 would also find it funny is just plain embarrassing.
Plus, I don’t even know what the product is! Or, at least, I don’t according to this advert. At no point does the advert explain what the Ouya is, save for a product shot and one line, both saved to the end of the ad. There’s no information on price, how the console works, where you can acquire one from, what anything that occurred in the previous 23 or so seconds has to do with the Ouya. Adverts have two jobs: to explain the product and to sell it to you in a way that makes it look appealing. This Ouya advert did neither and also managed to be an insult to basic human taste. I don’t know anything about the Ouya or any other apparent PR scuff-ups that have occurred with it recently, but this horribly misguided advert has managed to kill off any remote possibility of any future curiosity of mine towards the Ouya. So, yeah, I think that we can safely say that it failed at its job.
In Actually Important News, This Week: Saints Row IV came out. I got my copy today (due to European release dates and stuff), have currently played about three-to-four hours of it and will be writing about it next week. You could say that I am currently a fan.
Callie Petch is playing rubber soul with the razor blade.