The Truth About Video Game Brainwashing (It's The Ads!)

from the run-for-your-lives! dept

Lots of folks like to get worked up over the issue of sex and violence in video games. The claim is that such games teach kids to act out on what they learn in the games — but the evidence shows that as these games have become more popular, youth violence has decreased significantly. However, in all that time, perhaps we’ve been ignoring the real brainwashing that’s been going on in games: the ads. Ads in video games are nothing new. They’ve been around for years. However, a new study claims that those ads are unusually persuasive. Of course, the study was sponsored by a gaming firm, so you may want to pull out your favorite salt container. However, the study found that when ads were seen in video games in ways that fit into the game and made sense (it didn’t work for intrusive ads), gamers often thought highly of the brands. Well, at least highly enough 20 minutes after the game ended to tell some annoying researcher that they would recommend a brand to a friend. That might not translate into much in terms of actual behavior later on, but it’s the type of results that some video game ad sales guy is now salivating over.

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Comments on “The Truth About Video Game Brainwashing (It's The Ads!)”

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Testudo says:


I suppose this could be true in some cases, but I must say that I personally disagree. Ad’s in videogames have become more common (take Need For Speed for example), but I have never felt any kind of “attraction” (for lack of a better word) towards any brands marketed in games. Personally, I really rarely notice them.

Matt says:

Re: Perhaps...

You might not see them, but you know they are there and your mind is still registering them and taking them into account, its kind of like a subliminal message that blinks really fast on an add, that makes you want a McDonalds burger (just an example)…you didn’t see the message, but it still has its effect because your mind knows it was there even if you didn’t see it with your eyes.

Andrew Strasser (user link) says:

Personally, I really rarely notice them.

In advertising the less notice consciously that you have of the product the more productive it is. They would rather appeal to your sub-conscious. There are more than a few studies about how much better it is to store something into your sub-conscious instead of your conscious. It’s simple suggestion truths.

Matt says:

Re: Personally, I really rarely notice them.

I agree but I do notice them.. the Cingular logos, Burger Kings, etc. are all over the place in the lastest NFS games… would I recommend a greasy cheeseburger to someone because I flew past it in a game.. probably not.

Now it would be nice if the companies were not so money hungry that they would lower the cost of their games if it contained advertising! Possibly a less expensive game WITH ads and a more expensive one WIHOUT. (Sirius/XM anyone?)

dan says:

No Subject Given

I really do not believe that people are so easily coerced. I will dare to make an analogy here to violence in video games. If violent actions in video games do not lead to violent actions in real life, would seeing ads in a video game lead to purchases in real life?

Now, before you toss my opinion asside, I do not believe that violence in video games will cause violent players (for normal people, psychopaths are another topic).

Maybe I am different than the average consumer (and I suppose I must be, otherwise advertising would not work), but I very rarely buy items that I see ads and commercials for, rather I decide on a type of item that I want/need and then look at reviews of people who have already purchased it. I’m not saying that I am devoid of American consumerism, but I don’t think that playing a game with ads in it would cause me to think any different about those products (at least not positivly, I may get angry at them for putting ads in the game and actually not buy the product).

gamer says:

Re: No Subject Given

People are educated into believing propaganda in everything, even video games. But the only reason why we,meaning us that posted on this site, do not, is because while your playing a game like NASCAR, you couldnt care less for ads. If you play NFS. You only worry about the cops or other racers. In a slower game like THUG. You are more likly to notice them. In RPG’S you dont see them,usually. Do you think that anyone simple minded enough to fall for the ADs would bother to look up this site? I am only 15 and I can see things that most of the world is forced to look over, due to propaganda.

If you question me look up

Look for Propaganda, American-style.

ross says:

No Subject Given

its about name recognition. if you never see or hear a name of a brand or product, you will skip over it as it sits on the shelf, and pick up the product you have seen or heard of before.

out of sight, out of mind.

the sales people need to layer the exposure:
-a friend tells you about smallfort
-you see an ad on tv for smallfort
-you hear about smallfort on the radio
-you see smallfort in your video game
-you see smallfort on the shelf

of course you won’t go out and buy the item just from seeing it in your video game, but if you see it there and every where else, inclination is greater.

Tom says:

Re: No Subject Given

I got brainwashed by Burnout 3. All I saw was ads for Axes and Tigerwoods 2006…i bought both…can anyone feel the my sarcastic tone…if someone has that little mind control to fall prey to an ad in a video game then I plan on making a video game with ad for buying my web widgets….(a hand stamp that says “U are a jackass! Buy more widgets!”)

Jason.Q says:

Product placement

Product placement as opposed to direct ads in video games, movies, and even the old radio shows of yore have always been more effective than a direct advertisement of a product. Often, a famous actor is using the product, like a soda can or even a car- did anyone notice how the second Matrix Movie was basically a huge advert for that crappy Caddy they had out that year? James Bond uses a specific cell phone, not to mention his ubiquitous drink of choice. Interestingly, in video games I have played, (burnout 3 comes to mind) I was not compelled to buy any of EA’s other games, although I snatched up BF2 and there is a BF1 ad in there so maybe i was influenced. Ultimately that purchase was based on good reviews i believe. Perhaps it’s the difference between a nonpassive,educated consumer and a passive one. The Ipod looks cool, but the Zen is cheaper with the same features and less of the proprietary issues, so Zen it is. Something I did realize when I read this was how much more interested I would be in a fantasy product taken from a video game that takes pains to populate it’s world with imaginary products such as in San Andreas, I’d love to get ahold of some of those clothes in the game (beyond what is actually available) and would even like to get ahold of the highly addictive soda featured in the game :D… Let me know Rockstar.

Gamer says:

I agree and disagree

I never had a single though toward wanting a product that was tied into a game. Althouhg my medium is RPG’S, I have played more violent games. I never acted out the games, except for one. I was about eleven and I was into a fighting game, but it was about saving people, so it tuaght me in a good way.
I believe people can really learn from vidoe games that arent just about racing, killing, and gangs. RPG’s ,or other games like them,are good for calming and forcing the brain to work out challenges in the game.

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