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When game ads get controversial

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Castle Defense

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Your mother won't like it

It's almost a cliche in the advertising world: there's no better way to shift boxes than to get people talking about your product, and there's
no better way to do that than to stir up some controversy. But openly referring to your game as "trash?" That's taking things to the next
level...which is exactly where publisher EA took ads for this week's horror game release, Dead Space 2. We look back over the last few years of eyebrow-raising game ads.

Dead Space 2: Your mom probably doesn't like it

Under normal circumstances, video game ads tend say nice things about the
titles they're representing. But not always. A recent campaign for EA's
space survival horror game Dead Space 2 -- in stores this week -- took
an entirely different approach. Proclaiming "your mom hates Dead Space
2," the ad shows the disgusted reactions of various alleged mothers when
exposed to clips of some of the game's grittier scenes.

Pretty sketchy, especially considering the game is rated 'M' for mature and
isn't recommended to the under-17 set. Slamming the game as "trash,"
"terrible," "gross," blaming it for creating "a society full of
criminals," and suggesting the creators might be on drugs, the moms
obviously were less impressed with the game than its reviewers, who
(predictably) are heaping it with praise. Maybe they don't have kids.

Call of Duty: Black Ops makes soldiers of us all

You've probably seen this ad, which debuted last year in support
of the blockbuster launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Featuring the likes of Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Kimmel shooting it out with a host of regular Joe Public types, its lavish, violent imagery sparked plenty of debate
over the ad's apparent glamorization and sanitization of modern warfare. Media outlets including the LA Times and CBS ran editorials critical of Bryant's appearance -- and Sociologist blogger David Mayeda was moved to wonder "How many of the marketers for 'Call of Duty: Black Ops' have been in combat, lost a limb, dealt with severe war-related mental health problems, killed someone, or had a loved one killed?"

Sega, Capcom, and the curious tale of the severed limbs

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quiz: is scattering fake severed limbs around London a good idea, or a
bad idea? If you answered "good idea," there's probably a job waiting
for you in a British PR agency. Despite being obviously destined to end
in public unrest and perhaps criminal charges, not one, but two marketing stunts
along those lines took place in London's streets within a few weeks of
each other back in March 2009 -- first for Capcom's Resident Evil 5, and
then for Sega's MadWorld. Press branded the stunts "sick," and given
one of the promos used real chicken livers for added gore, we're
branding them pretty darn gross, too.

Ebony, ivory: PSP ad proves disharmonious

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It's tough for you to get by

Racist? Not racist? You're going to have to make up your own mind -- but if you
think it's a bit close to the bone, you're not going to be the only
. These posters appeared in Europe in 2006, hyping the launch of the
then-new Ceramic White PSP, but international criticism forced Sony
Europe to pull the billboards just a week after they appeared.

Dante's Inferno: Bonfire of the vanities

Where to begin? Though the game -- a forgettable God of War ripoff -- was
nothing out of the ordinary, its PR campaign was another matter
entirely. Boasting everything from staged protests to mysterious Rick Astley-singing boxes to boycotts from the International Nanny Association,
it culminated with a bizarre TV ad that blended crooner Bill Withers'
"Ain't No Sunshine" with footage of the game's hero descending into the
depths of Hades. Topping off the marketing binge to end all marketing
binges, the ad aired during the 2010 Super Bowl -- and those slots don't
come cheap.

Playstation Move ad gets moved on

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Playstation Move: too violent for at least eight people

Anything strike you as excessive about this billboard for Sony's new Playstation
Move motion control system? Unleashed on the British public last
holiday season, it caused more than a few spilled cups of tea: concerned
members of the public flooded -- nay, inundated -- the country's
Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) with complaints. Eight of them, to
be exact. It was apparently enough for the ASA, which accused the ad of
condoning or encouraging violent behavior, and banned it.


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