Confessing a love for video games won't get you beaten up on any playground these days, but gamers still have something of an inferiority complex about their favorite hobby. This might be because so many of the attempts to make gaming seem cool have backfired so spectacularly.
If you don't know what we mean, look no further than video game advertisements. For decades, out-of-touch marketers who have never held a controller in their lives have tried to come up with ad campaigns that make their game seem "hip" or "edgy." The results are, let's just say, awkward ...
#5. Game Boy Micro: The Console That Rats Want to Fuck
From the Game Boy Pocket to the 2DS, Nintendo has always been known for putting out endless variants of their portable consoles regardless of whether anyone actually asked for them. So, when the time came in 2005 to explain to fans why they needed to buy the new smaller version of the Game Boy Advance, they didn't even bother. They could make an ad showing a rat relentlessly humping their product, and people would still buy it. Here's that ad.
We tried to warn you.
If you couldn't watch that (the video might be blocked in some states with particularly strict bestiality laws), don't worry, we can describe the rat-fucking action for you. We open with some scientists in Nintendo's lab testing to see if a rat would prefer a Game Boy to a slice of cheese to determine "how addictive [Nintendo consoles] truly are," because that makes sense.
"Rats. Kids. What's the difference?"
The rodent scurries around a bit before deciding to beeline it right to the Game Boy, even climbing over a wall, not giving two shits about the rules. Then he arrives at his choice, and it turns out that the rat doesn't like the Game Boy -- he really likes it. Hard. Enjoy this GIF that Nintendo inexplicably filmed.
The new Game Boy: Half the size! Twice the rat jizz!
Look at that thing go. They actually got a rat to soil a piece of Nintendo hardware for this commercial (hopefully they disinfected it before it ended up in some kid's hands). And in case you missed it, the implication here is that the answer to "How addictive are Nintendo consoles?" is "So addictive that you'll want to put a hole in them. A sex hole." And since they were worried that this message wasn't clear enough, the ad ends with an awkward shot of one of the scientists looking at the hot rat-console action and nodding in unmistakable arousal.
Is he nodding at the Game Boy or the animal? We're not sure what's worse.
That's right, kids: Buy the new Game Boy and enjoy it while you can before your pet pulverizes it with its dong. Oh, did we mention it's called the Game Boy Micro? Because associating the word "micro" with sex is a great way to get pubescent boys to buy things.
#4. The Atari Jaguar Will Make You Puke
The Atari Jaguar was basically Atari hoping the world had forgotten about E.T.: The Game by the mid-'90s and trying to be competitive in the video game industry again, which is like returning to a party where you took a huge dump on the table and pretending nothing happened. Predictably, no one wanted anything to do with it. How could Atari possibly change that? Easy: tell people their games are so awful, they'll make you physically sick! Wait, no, that's a bad plan, Atari, don't do th-
Whoops, too late.
The ad for the game that came packed with the Jaguar, Cybermorph (did we mention this was the mid-'90s?), starts with some kid with a shit-eating grin inserting the cartridge into his console while looking impossibly punchable.
We're not even at the gross part yet, and we already want to puke.
As the kid experiences the impressive polygons that were supposed to convince you this thing was vastly superior to the Super Nintendo (while looking exactly like Star Fox), the camera jostles all around, tilting back and forth in accordance with the movements on screen.
The game also included a convenient feature that changed day into night.
As the camera sways, we cut to the kid winding up and ... blowing chunks all over the screen. Bonus points for making it look like he's throwing up on the logos of the game and console this is supposed to be advertising.
Marketing 101: Associate your product with food poisoning.
So, are we supposed to think the game gives you motion sickness, or just that the kid didn't like it very much? Between this, the Nintendo ad above, and the puke explosion Yoshi ad we showed you recently, we're thinking '90s advertisers had some sort of regurgitation fetish (which will make Season 30 of Mad Men very ... interesting).
Then again, the Jaguar's entire marketing campaign (or at least the ads that didn't yell at you for liking Nintendo and Sega better) seemed to revolve around the theme that if you play Jaguar, you'll be irrevocably changed for the worse. There's the series of ads that showed the various things you won't be able to enjoy again because "Suddenly, nothing else seems fun anymore," like blow-up dolls:
The Atari blow-up doll division was like "Man, what the hell?"
Although the crowd of gawking zoo-goers may have helped kill some of the magic as well.
Ironically, Clinton has gone on the record to say he was thinking about orangutan sex at the time.
#3. Dead Space 2's Secret Marketing Weapon: Your Mom
Look, we all know that despite what those black letters on video game covers like to pretend, kids will always play age-inappropriate games. If you don't believe us, just hop on Xbox Live for a few rounds of COD and see how long it takes to hear a prepubescent voice using a slur that would ruin a radio host's career. The companies know this, too, which is apparently why EA decided to market an M-rated game like Dead Space 2 with a slogan that seems specifically designed to appeal to 14-year-olds trying to look edgy:
It's true -- she's more into GTA.
But it's not just the slogan. The whole marketing campaign revolved around your mom and how much she would hate Dead Space 2, because that's every adult's criteria for deciding what game to spend $60 on: whichever one would make your parents most disappointed in you. In order to demonstrate this, EA plopped down a bunch of moms, showed them some gameplay, and recorded their reactions (ranging from faces of horror to literally asking the camera why anyone would even make a game like this).
They also set up the website YourMomHatesThis.com (don't go there; it's since been taken over by spam squatters) and paid Twitter to make #yourmomhatesthis a promoted hashtag. And to really drive the point home, the marketers even held a contest that encouraged kids to show their moms clips of the game and tweet their reactions to EA.
"Honey, have you gotten wrapped up in some kind of ... viral marketing? WHERE DID WE GO WRONG?"
This is like a Budweiser ad explaining how drinking their beer will magically give you rad dance moves at the prom. Another weird consequence of the campaign is that it makes fun of the only people that would even be able to purchase the product: the ignorant moms buying it for their bratty kid so they'll shut up for two hours, completely ignoring the GameStop clerk who explains that there is a scene in the game where you take a screwdriver to your own eyeball.
Of course, EA still claimed the ads were aimed at adults. Their rationale, as the behind-the-scenes video explains, is that "A mom's disapproval has always been an accurate barometer of what is cool." Multinational corporations run by people your mom's age, on the other hand, are known for being super hip, as the following example demonstrates ...