Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

The games industry has weird taboos…

I tried to advertise with a BIG game-advertising agency through their self-service system to place this ad on a major US games site:


I got this:

Message from the publisher: I’m sorry, but your ad banner is inappropriate.


so… why exactly?

Or do I just spend my money elsewhere?


I apologize, but we can not promote any politics as this is a sensitive topic.

WTF? I bet ads for games like hitman, or GTA, or games where you get slow-mo closeups of people’s skulls being blasted apart by high-caliber bullets are just fine. But discuss income tax? OH NOES THE WORLD WILL END! I saw a clip of mortal kombat on that charlie brooker doumenatry that made me feel sick, but apparently we as an industry are just FINE with that…┬áIt’s stuff like this that sometimes makes me ashamed to be in this industry. Half of the industry wants to be grown up and accepted as art, the other half have the mentality of seven year olds. I’m pretty cynical, but I never expected my ads for a game about government-simulation to be too controversial to be shown (for money no less…).

My next game will be gratuitous homicide battles. I bet everyone will let me promote that one eh?


19 thoughts on The games industry has weird taboos…

  1. ‘fraid so… I grew up with pixel-blob monsters (Doom) and much of the current violence makes me a bit sick too. But they wouldn’t bat an eyelid unless you named it Grand Theft Politician (hmm… actually that’s a good name for a game :)…

    Good luck with further advertising!

  2. But… But your banner isn’t even promoting any particular political opinion, it’s just talking about the idea of politics. It isn’t promoting the Democratic party or protesting same-sex marriage or suggesting taxes should be higher, it just says ‘democracy’ and ‘politics’. Is the very concept of democracy controversial? Are they worried North Korea will be upset? That is the most insane decision.

  3. Yeah that Mortal Combat clip was actually offensive. Never thought I’d hear myself saying that about a game, but it has finally happened. Not accepting ads for your game is sheer madness or PC-ness gone wrong.

  4. Bound to be because ‘Democrats’ is a political party. Your game is therefore anti-Republican!

  5. To be fair and balanced Democracy is not the only political system – there’s also tyrannical, pogrom creating, despotism … ;)

    [/not sure if whether to chuck or give a bewildered sigh …]

  6. That seems weirdly zero tolerant, as if the mere mention of politics is enough to send people packing. What you need is an ad with a guy walking away from an explosion with blue and orange hues everywhere and a vaguely meaningless catchphrase lazily poked in the general direction of your competition.

  7. To be fairly honnest, as the sexism problem, I would say this have nothing to do with the industry. But sadely the whole society.We have an hyper violent society were headshoting someone on prime time tv, but showing a nipple or saying something that go against any big enough group that can retaliate legally is not…

  8. Maybe the problem in the states is that people pay too much attention to politics, whereas in the UK they complain that we are not involved enough in politics. Violence in games has been debated for years, yet they will still let you advertise a game that is full of it, but not politics… hmmm!

    I was surprised that they showed that Mortal Kombat clip as I have played the game and knew what was coming, but don’t remember seeing any warning before or during the programme regarding content. I know it was after the watershed, but the slightest bit of language or violence in a movie that i’m watching on tv and they slap a warning up straight away.

    Did you watch the Indie Game: The Movie?

  9. USA = Politically Correct / No nudity (show a nipple and you get an uproar), discuss religion (even philosophically) / etc is a big no no however/ BLOOD AND headshots and guns and gore and guns and guns and more headshots and guts splattered all over the place is all fine and dandy

    EU = Half politically correct / Nudity accepted but god forbid you talk about violence and guns and they go batshit

    Asia = Loli’s nonstop is no problem

  10. Hey Chris, you may want to know that the URL for that image has the name of a certain game site on it. ;)

      1. Well, one more thing to conveniently bash GameSpot with – even if it’s the pen-pushers over at CBS Interactive that refused the ad. :D

      2. Someone in the comments of that article makes a good point: if that ad company has any clients in China, then the very title “Democracy” would make it deeply controversial there.

  11. Eh, it’s me again.

    Why don’t you try reaching the staffers directly, Cliff? Specifically the blokes over at GameSpot UK? Last I heard, they are very partial to indies.

    That way, you don’t have to deal with pen-pushing cluster-f*cks.

  12. I found Gamespot’s refusal to allow you to advertise Democracy 3, laughable. I know how hard you, actually all developers, work to create a game and how excited you were to share this game with the world. You wanted to let the whole Internet know that you had this great game and you wanted people to play it, yes you had a financial motive, but I bet even more so, you would be happy if people played your game and told you they enjoyed it immensly.

    Gamestop may not choose to allow you to advertise your Democracy 3 game on their website, but it won’t stop me from purchasing your game, sight-unseen, merely because I know how hard you worked to bring this game to life and $25 is relatively inexpensive for ANY Computer Game. So, here’s to you and your hard work, thank you for sharing your work with everyone, I hope you will put me on your list of Customers that would like to hear about any new games you develop for sale.

    Bob Bunderfeld

  13. I just noticed the guy on the poster is wearing a Che Guevara shirt. Maybe the idiot at Gamespot thought you were promoting political upheaval…

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