Grand Prix screenshotAs young people spend less time watching television and more time online and playing games, advertisers have devised a new way to reach them. So says a report in the Economist (11 June 2005 – see here – premium content). “In the 1930s, the sponsorship of radio serials by makers of household cleaning products led to the soap opera. Listeners were enthralled by episodic, melodramatic storylines, and advertisers were guaranteed a big audience. Today, the same thing is happening with another new medium. Video games have been crossed with advertising to produce a new genre: the adver game.”

Research is showing that gamers seem to have a very positive view of ingame advertising. this is particularly true in sports games, where advertising mimics real world stadiums and gives a more lifelike feel. For now many of these, the ads are currently built in, but in future they might be piped in via the Internet and games consoles.

An early example of the advergame is “America’s Army”, first released by the US military as a recruitment tool in 2002. It is a free downloadable and strikingly realistic war game, covering basic training, tactical planning and a variety of missions and now has over 5 million registered players. The United Nations has “Food Force” which was released by the World Food Program, intending to raise awareness for global hunger with players acting as emergency aid workers. There are also many browser based games on the Internet, and these are becoming more and more popular.

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