Culture jamming The Sims
November 20, 2002 6:15 PM   Subscribe

Culture jamming The Sims. As discussed here a couple of months ago, the much loved McDonald's Corporation has a major deal with Electronic Arts. But with hundreds of virtual burger restaurants in Simsville - what's to stop gamers turning into virtual anti-globalisation vigilantes?
posted by bwerdmuller (19 comments total)
We already discussed this on simMetafilter.
posted by srboisvert at 8:08 PM on November 20, 2002

Can your Sim throw a rock through the window? Probably not, but I'd imagine allowing your Sim's bladder bar to drop all the way into the red would be a fantastic method of nonviolent protest.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:20 PM on November 20, 2002

what's to stop gamers turning into virtual anti-globalisation vigilantes?

The fact that their locked in their homes playing video games and that most of them really don't give a shit?

Why are people treating this like it's the first existence of advertising in a video game? Hell, Nokia is all over the new Tony Hawk. Sports games have had advertising all over stadiums for years.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:07 PM on November 20, 2002

That would be "they're locked in their homes..."

Damned english.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:10 PM on November 20, 2002

So uhm... if you don't agree with the product placement, why don't you just not buy the game?

Hello? This thing on? McFly?

Oh that's right, because adbusting revolutionaries are saving us from our own ignorance. What would we ever do without them? Hold on, I'm about to hit the spin cycle on my mass media brainwashing. Wrrrrr.....
posted by Stan Chin at 9:19 PM on November 20, 2002

Um, at the risk of sounding like I am taking a position, I should point out that there is a significant difference between advertising in Tony Hawk or a baseball stadium and advertising in a virtual game like the sims. In the first two cases, about the only thing you can do to show your displeasure at the advertising is to not buy the product (either the product which contains the ads or the product being promoted), which is not entirely satisfactory if you are protesting the adverts only, as it is likely that the product manufacturer (both for the main product and the product that is advertised) is unaware that you are even protesting it. Whereas in the sims game, you could target your displeasure at the advertising directly, in such a manner that it is clear that it is the advertising that you disagree with, not the product, and in such a way that they can be aware of your displeasure.

Let me conclude by saying that I personally don't have a problem with McDonald's being in the sim world, although it'd be cooler if there were a choice of restaurants.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 9:36 PM on November 20, 2002

McDonald's is the only choice? Those Sims are gonna get FAT! Will pro-wrestling be the only thing on tv?
posted by blamb at 10:04 PM on November 20, 2002

Frankly, it wouldn't be a very accurate Sim-World without fast food.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:12 PM on November 20, 2002

Haha, this is a funny article (in a gouging my brain out with a toothpick sort of way).

"It's been reported that eating virtual McDonald's hamburgers will positively affect your "Fun" and "Hunger" game stats. But what if you're a vegetarian? What if you're an eco-activist? What if you think it's more Fun dining at Biff's Family Restaurant?"

(a) Eat a salad, milkshake (they didn't say vegan), fries, sundae, or one of those veggie burgers (assuming they still have them).

(b) If eating stuff doesn't satisfy your hunger you have a problem. I usually have fun when I'm eating because it's a well known fact that high-fat and sugar levels increase seratonin production.

(c) The game doesn't play to extreme minorities (eco-activists). If it did it would be insane to keep track of the programming required. How about the people who believe in Antidisestablishmentarianism? Wouldn't they deserve a say in it all too?

(d) If it's more fun dining at another restaurant, then go there.

(e) I find games a hell of a lot more fun when they resemble real life (in some ways). It's even more fun to try to 'break' the rules of the game. Case in point: GTA. And yeah, having a McDs in that game would KICK ASS. Especially if they filled it with a grease-based flame thrower. Mmmm... cow fat. Yummy.

Oh man, this is such a non-starter of a story it isn't even funny.

And I _enjoy_ it when I see "Let's all go to the lobby and get ourselves some treats". It doesn't suck (tm).
posted by shepd at 11:34 PM on November 20, 2002

what's to stop gamers turning into virtual anti-globalisation vigilantes?

Apparently not the fact that they have real lives...
posted by dagny at 12:47 AM on November 21, 2002

I logged on to the de-mon-stra-tion doesn't have the same ring.

On the other hand, we could have duels such as Organizers said that 9,733 persons attended, but system administrators insisted there were never any more than 8,921 inside the bounds of the park area.
posted by dhartung at 12:54 AM on November 21, 2002

The makers of The Sims Online should be hugely flattered if virtual protests take place, it'll mean they've done a good enough job in creating a virtual world with enough flexibility to produce some interesting interaction.
It's like with Ultima Online, where all sorts of unpredictable behaviour blossomed (soon after launch developers spotted someone had set themselves up as a pimp; the co-creator's reaction? "Awesome!")

I do think product placement weakens movies and games. As much as anything else, it seriously restricts gameplay - if Sims Online featured a phoney burger chain then they could have had rival franchises & alternative independent outlets, and freely featured virtual activists. Characters could've had food poisoning, or become fat and unhealthy.
The game is inevitably made poorer by kissing corporate arse.
posted by malevolent at 2:29 AM on November 21, 2002

As EatenByAGrue pointed out, there will be people who like the game itself but dislike the product placement. Furthermore, I think the concept of this particular game is one that allows for self-expression in a way many other games do not -- and it's a fantastic opportunity for people who object to McDonald's to show it. Activism via computer games sounds pretty innovative to me.

Shep'd said, "(a) Eat a salad, milkshake (they didn't say vegan), fries, sundae, or one of those veggie burgers (assuming they still have them)." -- Not to change the focus of the discussion, but unfortunately such behaviour wouldn't help. McDonald's may serve salads, but we don't know if their vegetables are genetically engineered. The french fries contain beef flavouring, and even the veggie burgers probably contain genetically engineered soy or corn products. So for many vegetarians, all McDonald's products are off-limits. (More info on this sort of thing is available at Organic Consumers). Additionally, most people who have problems with McDonald's have problems not because they are vegetarians but because of the way the organization operates.

Speaking of which, wouldn't it be hilarious if players could hand out copies of Fast Food Nation to other players?
posted by brina at 4:49 AM on November 21, 2002


And I thought I was the only one who used that word. The Internet just got interesting.
posted by Dark Messiah at 5:30 AM on November 21, 2002

A simulated McDonalds would offer the great advantage that one wouldn't have to suffer the nasty taste of the food, or the ugly smell or dismal atmosphere of the restaurants - only the convenience of it would be preserved. In this way, at least, this is a great leap forward.
posted by misteraitch at 5:45 AM on November 21, 2002

* Open an independent restaurant. Gain the confidence of your clientele, and then let them know your business is being hurt by ubiquitous McDonald's kiosks. Ask them to put pressure on other Simians to support small business people instead of cogs in a gigantic franchise-machine.

Uh, this is a game, right? Wow.

I do like the idea of sending your Sim to McD's, then passing out. You know people are going to start peeing there.
posted by mkultra at 6:57 AM on November 21, 2002

I don't know if Maxis/EA will actually add the McDonald's feature in the final version of The Sims Online, but the current play test version (which, I believe, is nearly the final version) contains no sign of any McDonald's.

Maybe they changed their minds?
posted by Limegirl at 1:19 PM on November 21, 2002

Hmm, the idea of being able to protest McDonalds without getting out of my chair is strangely appealing. This could actually be a selling point for me.

You know people are going to start peeing there.

Art imitating life again...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:12 PM on November 21, 2002

DM: disestablishment is again an issue, so antidisestablishmentarianism is not an anachronism.
posted by dhartung at 4:52 PM on November 21, 2002

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