May 14, 2012

Ubisoft’s Complexed Message

Reading time: 4 min

Here’s a quick description, what you see here is a promotional video created by and Ubisoft to help advertise the upcoming video game Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon.

I knew this video was unique the moment I saw the thumbnail in my Facebook feed.  I’ve tried to wrap my head around it since I first watched it. This video is wrong on so many levels but for the sake of our short attention spans, I’ll concentrate on the most important ones.

Here’s the top 5 reasons the “Complex Team Ghost: Coco” video sucks.

1 – The overall concept and message is just blatantly sexist. Complex or Ubisoft may reply saying that it was all done in satire and that I should just relax or lighten up. That’s not an excuse. Using satire as a reason and trying to make nothing out of this is a form of subtle discrimination. I think Katie Cunningham put it in her article about discrimination when she said: “The main problem with subtle discrimination is that it leaves those that it affects the most powerless against it and quietly discourages them”.

2 –  It stereotypes gamers as all male and stupid, which makes me believe that they are out of touch with the real gamers. This doesn’t make sense to me, I mean the information is right out there for everybody to find. The average gamer is 37 years old and 45% of them are women! In fact, adult women represent a greater part of the game-playing population (37 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (13 percent)

3 – They are creating false expectations and implying that all girl gamers dress like strippers and that you will get laid by playing with them. There are so many fantastic and vocal female gamers out there why didn’t they use one of them? What makes even less sense is that Ubisoft has been sponsoring a whole community of female gamers for years called the FragDolls to promote its games for years! These are much more appealing women to hire who actually to play video games because they like it. Why not use one of them? Am I wrong in thinking they’d be insulted by this promotion?

4 – The ads use a female gamer saying that girls play games, but if you know Ghost Recon, there are no lead female playable characters. The player does not have a choice of a female avatar in both the single-player story storyline and the multiplayer part of the game. Tom Clancy games have always pushed realistic military situation and gameplay. Last time I checked, there are women in the military today, this game is set in the future. Are there no women special forces in the future?

5 – The feel and tone of this promotion is not something I would have expected to see for a Tom Clancy title. It’s no secret what that UbiSoft is trying to steal gamers off the juggernaut that is Call of Duty but that’s not what Ghost Recon is. Lowering it the this kind of message does a disservice to the gamer and its fans. In the past, Ghost Recon has always been the thinking man’s shooter, it’s not a pickup and play game like the CoD series.

From a marketers perspective, synergy in your marketing and messaging is important. Especially when Ubisoft spends millions of dollars to create a serious Hollywood type movie focusing on the seriousness and realism to in turn create something like what we see above.

In my opinion, this message paints a bad portrait of all gamers and gamer culture. That said I hope that Ubisoft and Complex pull this ad and work on showing us real gamers and concentrates on what makes its product worth buying.

At least it’s encouraging to see that the YouTube community has the same reaction I do which gives me hope for humanity.

In the end, I’m still buying Ghost Recon when it’s released next week and I also plan to pick up future Ubi titles because they are great products.

Most of the time I have no issues telling friends and colleagues that I’ve been playing games for over 20 years and that I still regularly play. I’m a mature gamer but messages like this make it harder to use the term “mature”.

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