Talking about gaming to those that don’t play them tends to be a tedious display of cryptic exchanges, provoking all manner of scrupulous glances. With most either ignorant or politely dismissive of the activity, its usually a topic of conversation one attempts to avoid. You can say you spent your evening reading a book, watching a movie or even mocking last night’s episode of “Game Of Thrones” and be met with a reciprocal nod of approval, perhaps even a conversational signal to elaborate on what you thought/felt about what you read/watched. But mention gaming and watch as they avoid eye contact, trying desperately not to say anything trivialising about a form of entertainment they deem juvinile. Gaming is generally a topic best avoided if you want to engage in a mature, adult conversation. Yet sometimes gaming’s influence finds a way of piercing the veil between the ignorant and the woke. On this occasion an enquiry from someone that doesn’t play computer games, other than mobile ones came courtesy of my girlfriend.
My girlfriend doesn’t play computer games. Sure she indulges in a few mobile variations, pilfering coins from villages and alike but nothing I’d consider substantial. So when watching TV, with her being the pragmatic and acutely observant person she is commented on a commercial for The Elder Scrolls Online update “Elswyr” by questioning the use of footage that isn’t featured in the game. “If it’s not actual gameplay footage, then why is it in the advert?”. A valid and logical surmise I’m sure you’ll agree. But a question that can only really be answered with an ironically farcical, yet suitably accurate response: “To deceive consumers”. This curt reply didn’t surprise her nearly as much as it surprised me. Frankly all of these “not actual gameplay footage” advertising merely perpetuates the mendacious attitude and deceitful nature of developers/publishers that has become a prevalent, yet accepted ploy in a corrupt and morally bankrupt industry.
Dave Gorman, a British comedian examined the deceitful qualities exhibited by such advertising in his stand up, reflecting on the logistics and bewildering decision to not include actual footage from the game. “You don’t see adverts for tea with Not actual tea on them?!” being a particular highlight. What I’ve come to realise with the emergence of such duplicitous trailers is one beautiful and universal truth: if it doesn’t show actual footage from the game I don’t trust it. I don’t buy it. Because in all probability the reason for its absence is that the actual gameplay is garbage. Subverting player expectation is one thing, but advertising fraudulent content is downright treachery.