Ian Bogost (game designer and researcher, bio, blog) wrote a Gamasutra feature where he talks about the cultural meanings of the branded tokens in the latest Monopoly: Here & Now edition and what lessons can be extracted by video game designers:
"If we think of brands as markers for complex social behavior, we can also imagine recombining brands’ encapsulated social values in new contexts: the Yugo stagecoach; the Preparation H-needing blood elf. These are perhaps silly examples—and some developers might fear that they represent in-game advertising’s worst threat: advertising’s colonization of even the most incompatible games. But like the creators of Monopoly Here & Now, game designers should recognize that there might be times when advertising could actually enhance a design, not just take away from it.
You can use advertising to exploit cultural preconceptions about known items that then serve as a kind of shorthand for aspects of your game world. And that sort of attitude turns the tables on in-game advertisers, making advertising a tool in the hands of the designer, rather than one in the hands of the brand, agency, or network."
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