February 24, 2008
Around the Consortium: GDC, His Girl Friday, and the Advertising Lab

Wrapping up a weekend of updates for the Consortium blog, I wanted to look around C3 to a number of interesting posts from some of our C3 Consulting Researchers.

This week, I wanted to point to David Edery's recent work presented at the Game Developers Conference, Jason Mittell's piece on His Girl Friday and early television in the public domain, and a variety of stories that Ilya Vedrashko has provided of late on his Advertising Lab site.

First, C3 Consulting Researcher David Edery, who formerly worked here for us in the Program in Comparative Media Studies, posted an entry about his GDC presentation, including write-ups of the presentation, a copy of his slides, and the description of his session. David is now the Worldwide Games Portfolio Planner for Micrsoft's Xbox Live Arcade.

According to the Next Generation review of his session:

Game ads need to make sense within the context of the game world. You can't place a present-day movie trailer in futuristic games, says Edery. That's instantly recognized as advertising.

It's far more effective to work product placements and brands directly into the framework of the game. Force players to drive around virtual cities in a Honda Civic instead of a generic vehicle or repeatedly make a brand an integral part of a cut scene.

Even for those who agree that product placement/integration is the best way to roll advertising into games, of course, there are ways in which that can be done "organically," to use the current buzzword, and ways in which it can be seen as forced, which can be detrimental to the contextual placement David refers to. Be sure to see David's site and these various resources for more on his presentation.

Meanwhile, Jason Mittell writes about a recent post from David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson about His Girl Friday and how the lack of copyright protection actually helped bring that film back into the public conscious and paved the way for high-quality DVD versions of the print.

He writes:

The case of His Girl Friday demonstrates that cultural value can be retroactively applied economically. There is no doubt that the wide circulation of the film on television and later home video enhanced the film's reputation and inspired critics and viewers to reassess an otherwise overlooked film. That revaluation created a market for the film, which in turn made a restored print and DVD economically worth it. You can still buy a dozen different versions of the film, but the film's lack of scarcity has made it worth enough to pony up for a high-quality authorized copy.

Mittell asks how the same might happen for shows currently appearing in random available episodes through $1 and $2 DVD deals, like The George Burns & Gracie Allen Show, which I have my own copy of.

Finally, see Ilya Vedrashko's recent posts on banner ad clicks, ads you can taste, and a New York Times/LiveJournal connection to Russian readers.