Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Pittsburgh Energy Gaming Commercial

Watched that? Good.

Kotaku posted this video along with an article describing it as giving the middle finger to gamers, saying it will make you mad and advising that you not take a job here and instead work for a company that respects your hobbies.

I mostly disagree.

The commercial asks if your high score can get you a car loan. Well, can it? I don't think so. Competitive gaming leagues or tournaments that offer prizes are relatively rare. You have to have incredible skill and dedication to be a professional gamer who earns enough to make a living, and the vast majority of the millions of gamers will never be able to earn enough money to buy a car by playing video games.

"Drop the controller and build your experience level for real" -- good use of gaming language to promote a real-world experience. Doesn't it sound good to level up your career instead of your Call of Duty rank? I mean,  how could that be a bad thing?

"With a job in energy, we'll get you trained, and we'll get you paid". Video games can do half of that at best, and it's not the part with the money.

"When it comes to the things you really need, you won't have to search for coins" (Mario coin sounds). Good use of a universal gaming symbol as a metaphor for life. Wouldn't you rather have a regular paycheck than to pick up temp work here and there, or hope you get a lot of birthday money?

The only specific point I will concede is that the line "You just levelled up. Real proud of you" comes across as a bit condescending.

I had a bit of a discussion in the article's comments section with the author of the article, Jason Schreier. At first I didn't have any problems at all with the commercial, but Jason pointed out that the commercial is saying "put down your video games and get a job" -- video games specifically, and not your book or your movie or your football. While I don't have any problems with anything in particular, I do agree that the commercial is reflective of the persistent societal prejudice against video games. It says "Hey gamer, get off your lazy butt and get a job" without considering that, hey, maybe I already have a job, and just so happen to also play video games.

What do you think of the commercial?


  1. Read between the lines. It's essentially saying every second you're not working for them you're wasting your life. This is like a big fuck you to all hobbies, but videogames in particular.

  2. The whole thing was condescending. The start of it "You just leveled up. Real Proud of you." sets the tone for the entire commercial which is a snide attack on a hobby that really should have nothing to do with it. They use gaming terminology to try and turn working for them into a "game" in the same way.

    No, sorry, you can't start with a "Hey, you suck, but here.." and expect the rest of the message to be taken seriously.

  3. I didn't find the commercial that bad. I thought the correct use of video-gaming lingo combined with the iconography was a great way to bring two different ways of spending time together. Maybe that first part is a little condescending, but really, the points made are still valid.

    The commercial is trying to connect with a specific demographic, seemingly a young, most likely male (consider the silhouette at the beginning) group of people. To do so, they use video game references, as I'm pretty sure most of us within that demographic can relate to, and try to demonstrate the point that how said demographic stereotypically, emphasis on typically, spends their time may or may not be in their best interest.

    Sure, the commercial is saying that working for them is better than playing video games, but every commercial is basically saying, "Whatever you're using/buying/doing, it's not as good as this."

    Just because they weren't vague enough to include other hobbies doesn't specifically exclude all other hobbies from criticism, it's just that a targeted advertisement means more than a vague one.

    Also, there's a difference between a hobby, and a vocation. Whereas a hobby is something you do in your off time, a vocation is the main occupation of your time, and I think this commercial was talking to anyone who might be taking their hobby a little too far. And I've seen enough evidence and examples of people taking hobbies too far to deny its existence and the problems therein.

  4. Also, tldr, trolololol! (Beat you to it!)