28 Aug 2009

See, boys - this is why we can't have nice things

I'm really slow off the rank with the subject of this blog, but I just hate it so damn much, I couldn't let it go unnoticed. This chappy here does a fantastic job of analyzing it from a proper advertising perspective; I just want to joke about it.
A while back I started getting bombarded with a series of ads for a so-called online RPG, called "Evony". Now, as an old-school dice-rolling pencil-chewing roleplayer from waaay back, I detest these MMORPG things. They have sucked all the positive aspects of RPGing right out. "Pen-and-paper" gaming was always about a bunch of friends getting together, telling stories, and having fun. It was always a social affair.
Online gaming is most definitely not that. Instead, it has taken up the worst aspects of the hobby - most notably the powergaming, the near-autistic obsession with number crunching and replacing character development with an endless repetitive grind - and reduced players to isolated drones, destroying all the interaction that made gaming fun.
I don't care if you've got some 40th-level Blue Elf Fartbender in WoW, and it's the greatest thing ever. That's not roleplaying; it's some kind of grotesque social networking outfit where you get to kill people. So yeah, it's not like I'm going to be playing a MMORPG anytime soon; and given the kind of game we're going to look at here, I won't be ever.
A few things to note about this Evony game, as established on the dozens of blogs who have ripped it to bits:
-despite its claims of being "free" there is actually a hidden charge, -it is a very cheap and nasty ripoff of Civilization, and doesn't even bother to disguise the fact, -it is run by a major spamming outfit, primarily to harvest email addresses.
The ads were unexceptional at first, but their increasing dodginess prompted me to first arch one eyebrow, and then another.
So they're like "check out this game man, could this dude get anymore badass? And it's free forever!". My initial reaction - like most astute folks, I'd hope - was to reply "I'd rather not receive all your Viagra spam, thank you", and ignore them. Sensing this didn't work, the ad men at Evony cranked it up a notch.
"Hail unto ye, pink-cheeked elf chick! Would thou hold my lance awhile?" Figuring they really needed to go for the brainless hormonal boy (and boy-man) market, the Evony ad men decided to cast a Dispel Subtlety spell. It worked. Dangle a buxom lass straight from a costume catalog, get her going all servant-wench styles, and they'll run salivating!
Yeah, that's the spirit! A week after running the last ad, the boys upped the ante by running this one. Why ravish one maiden, when you can ravish TWINS! Lipsticky-lesbiany-looking ones straight out of Marie Antoniette! (Wait, that's not medieval fantasy...) PLAY NOW, MY LORD! Yet, even this doesn't seem to have been effective enough. It was time to crank that Dispel Subtlety up to 20th level...
Yeah. Have you ever read Freud? He would have a few things to say about this ad. It is wrong on so many levels, it's gone right through to the earth's core and come out the other side. It is an event horizon. I struggle to joke about it. I swear, by Apollo, I first time I saw the above ad I emitted some kind of choked sound, an admixture of horror, despair, and stupefaction. I've seen a lot of offensive bollocks in teh interwebs in my time, but that one's a doozie. Horror, because it was just so ugly; despair, because this is the kind of stuff that makes RPGs reviled by so many women; and stupefaction, because I just could not believe somebody could actually be that STUPID.
Yet, like some 14-year-old's poorly scripted game, it gets even worse.
Seriously guys, do you think anyone who plays this game would be worried about DISCRETION? We're up to languorous maidens with heaving bosoms, dreaming of their lord and his big sword. Anyone who has gotten into the game by this point has clearly surrendered all shreds of self-respect. Oh, wait-
I promise you kids, this is a bona fide ad for the game. They're just not even trying anymore. I can just imagine some frustrated adman over there at Evony going "what will it take to get these damn kids signed up? We gave them chicks 'n' shit. To hell with it, just slap some plastic-faced tranny in there and say PLAY ME; let 'em know it's SECRET too, so their mom won't bust them, like that time she caught me with the lingerie catalogue - wait did I say that out loud?"...or something like that. So, ultimately, they took this idea to its most insane conclusion, with the most recent ad:
There was this great bit in the last season of Mad Men, when Peggy noted "sex sells". Don, slightly irritated, corrected her: "Rubbish. The people who say that think a monkey could do this job". This ad is an illustration of that. They're just going for the whole LOOK AT THESE BEWBS angle. Hell, the ad department at Evony had probably just walked out by now, and monkeys had been bought in to replace them. All they needed was a look at the last ad and five minutes on Google Image Search.
Fortunately, as I noted at the start, everybody's had a good rip at these losers, and their lameness has been broadcast netwide. If some fun could come of all this crapiness, a satirical MMORPG mocked this campaign with an ad of their own:
As a final coda to this ghastly business, in case you were wondering if anyone did actually fall for this crap : a few weeks ago I read a feature article in one of the Sunday papers about a particularly nasty right-wing blogger, known for his misogyny, obnoxiousness, and the fact he's reviled by most of the media in this country. I thought he was loathsome enough, but there was a crowning moment of fail right at the end of the article - where he revealed he played Evony. Actually he went on about how great it was. I couldn't help but laugh - here, revealed to me, was the kind of creep these ads really spoke to. God help roleplaying.

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