Obama Campaigns on Xbox 360

October 15, 2008

Barrack Obama is now taking a road to the White House that is far different from the tangible, sticky roads you and I drive on.  Kissing babies is for suckas. He's taking, instead, the stylized, sexy, squeeling roads of Burnout Paradise by using in-game advertising. Savvy move, Obama, now when do we get an Obama Mii!?

As I’ve mentioned before, video games are the emergent cultural form of our generation.  They’re story-telling devices, competition venues, and social networks.  And, now, thanks to Senator Obama, they’re the newest screen real-estate for political ads. 

In-game advertising is hardly novel.  Game sponsorship has gone on since NES, with the least obtrusive version of it in my memory being Jet Moto where the Mountain Dew team was the best. But, advertising for the race to the White House – something marginally less saccharine – IS relatively novel.

Gigaom.com managed to remember one other such instance, but certainly ex-Virginia Gov. Mark Warner’s attempt to hold a press conference in Second Life is a less high-octane version of in-game promotion. 

Some view this form of advertising as hypocritical since one digital tent pole of Senator Obama’s campaign has been a call for parents to “put the video games away.” One presumes that he would want that to happen after the kids drive by his stylized face at 200 m.p.h. in an attempt to crush another driver to tiny, shrapnel-peppered globules.

There's an argument to be made, though, that the titles he's advertising in aren't for kids that're stuck in front of the television all day, they're for voting age adults that're stuck in front of the television all day.  And, Obama is young and hip enough for this to feel genuine.  What if McCain did it? "He's too old man. You'd start driving safe in the game if you saw a McCain add," correctly quips my friend David. 

Burnout was the first to have screenshots, but Obama’s ad will also be updated into the following Xbox 360 titles this Fall Madden 09, Nascar 09, NHL 09 and Skate.