Gaming Audiences: Perception vs Reality

Just a quick mini rant from me on gaming and why the media industry doesn’t take it seriously, here are two verbatim conversations I’ve had with colleagues in the past two days

Conversation 1 –

Planner: So I’ve been tasked with getting Mums to buy this meat based snack for their teenage sons – I don’t know how.

Me: Random thought – this ad would translate really well to a fun flash game, it’s the kind of thing that 40 something Mums love

Planner: Well I’ve heard that, but frankly none of my friends play any games at all so I don’t believe

Me: But you’re 30

Planner: Yeah I suppose….

Conversation 2:

Planner B: So we need to talk to 18-21 year old girls – any thoughts

Me: (Amongst other ideas) Have you looked at if they are into social gaming etc?

Planner: I said 18-21 year old GIRLS – obviously not.

Me: Humour me and have a look at the numbers

Planner: (5 mins later having investigated our in-house CCS survey which recently had a gaming addition.) What do you know, 18-21 year old girls have an index of over 300 against karaoke and fitness games and also seem to love online casual games. – I don’t buy it though.

And here is the problem – all the evidence in the world doesn’t seem to convince your average media planner that anyone except 10-20 year old boys play games. These planners are willing to ignore vast swathes of statistics which claim otherwise and would rather base their decisions on what media planners and friends of media planners do.

It’s weird – I never watch crappy daytime TV but all the statistics tell me that middle aged housewives do, so if I want to sell Instant coffee I should probably advertise there – and I do. My Mum doesn’t ever watch that kind of TV either, neither does my mother in law, however I’m willing to trust the statistics and accept that the two middle aged women in my life do not necessarily fit societal norms.

Why is it then that when it comes to gaming people are so dismissive of it?

I think part of the problem is that the instant mental image that is conjured up when we talk about gaming is of hyper violent block buster games such as GTA and Modern Warfare. Quite correctly no-one can picture their Mum or little sister playing that game and so dismiss all games. They conveniently forget about Singstar, WiiFit, Farmville and Rockban because it doesn’t fit with their view of the world.

The thing is it is our job and responsibility as media planners to shed our own preconceptions and prejudices when we develop a communications strategy. We have to accept that we very rarely resemble our mass target audiences in any way.

If we don’t do that, then we have no chance of persuading our clients to !


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