There are two forces struggling to define the public perception of video games. First we have the gamers. These are often reasonable adults who are tired of being portrayed as frothy-mouthed would-be sex offenders with the collective attention span of an alcoholic gnat. And then we have the video game advertisers, who are all too eager to reinforce these stereotypes.
After all, from their end, the true value of a promotional campaign is in how much they can get the press talking about it. And how do you get the press to talk about it? Why, by triggering the outrage and/or ridicule of all of the non-gamers of the world. Thanks, guys!
Dead Island Entices Gamers With a Headless, Busty Torso
You may remember 2011's Dead Island for its harrowing trailer (which featured a family being torn apart by a zombie attack in agonizing slow motion) or for the mediocre, glitch-ridden game that had nothing to do with the awesome promo.
In any case, gaming label Deep Silver decided to get the hell off of the high road for the campaign for the game's 2013 sequel, Dead Island: Riptide. They decided to market the collector's edition of the game with a "grotesque take on an iconic Roman marble torso sculpture," which you can see below. Can't you see the art history oozing out of it?
If Michelangelo had lived another 20 years, this was what he'd be going for.
Here's the thing that Deep Silver (and many other gaming companies, as we'll see in a moment) don't get: Sex and violence are not like peanut butter and jelly. They are not two great tastes that taste great together. Hacking up zombies -- it's dandy. Boobs, ditto. But attaching a pair of pert breasts to a decapitated zombie torso? That's a crime against both sex and violence. Although to be fair, for a slaughtered torso, it's surprisingly, almost disturbingly modest (please note that the young lady's Union Jack two-piece has been left completely intact by the zombie attack). Because a zombie bite deep enough to expose bone didn't snap them, the strings on that bikini must be titanium wire.
It could have been a little worse.
So yes, this, uh, object is a "striking conversation piece," in that if you see this in someone's home, the best course of action is to distract them with conversation and then strike them on the damn head with it. Remember, bloody torsos are like cockroaches: If you see one, there are probably a lot more hidden out of sight. In the end, Deep Silver responded to complaints with a par-for-the-course, half-assed non-apology.