Advergames: Darfur is Dying

This week in class we looked at advertising games, typically called Advergames. These games in particular are advertising some sort of product or company. Business Dictionary formally defines the advergames as:

A videogame which in some way contains an advertisement for a product, service, or company. Some advergames are created by a company with the sole purpose of promoting the company itself or one of its products, and the game may be distributed freely as a marketingtool.

So with that said, it seems reasonable to find that advergames are really popular. You may see a lot of advertising in games, like when you lose a level in a game and you have to wait for the ad to pass before you can continue playing.

Example of an Advertisement in a Game
Example of an Advertisement in a Game

But advertising in a game is completely different than advergames. Advergames involve the company itself and they use specific products in the game itself. Advertisements in a game only showcase specific products, like the picture above, in that case it was another app developed by that same company.

In class we specifically played a game called Darfur is Dying. In this game you go are a native of Darfur, and you have to go find water and use that water to grow crops in the village. While you are out getting water, you have to avoid the rebel group that will capture you. Once you are captured, you cannot play that character. So if you successfully get water back to the village, you go around to deliver the water to grow seed for food. But there is always a threat of attack on the village by the rebel forces.

The game itself is advertising that the player does something about the problem in Darfur. There is a red bar that appears occasionally that says “Take Action” and a green “Go.”  When you click on that red bar it gives you options on what action you can take; you can send a message to Obama, ask your representative to support the people of Darfur, you can start a divestment movement on campus and find more ways to get involved.

The Options to Take Action

Now some might not put this game in the advergame category itself, but the game is advertising the situation in Darfur and what you can do about it. The fact the it gives you options on what to do puts the game itself in that category.

Throughout the semester, we have played other advertising games, like the McDonalds Video Game. But Darfur is Dying really fits the category because it advertising that you do something, the specific product.

  3 comments for “Advergames: Darfur is Dying

  1. stevenf
    April 3, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    I have been debating myself whether this could be considered an advergame or not. I don’t know for sure whether they are fully “advertising” the situation in Darfur, but the game certainly seems to have the goal of raising awareness for the suffering of those affected by the war in Darfur. At the same time though, the creater of the game does still add in an option to donate money to help the cause of Darfur. I guess the fact that they are asking for money as a result of showing you the horrific conditions that the people in that region are facing is a form of advertisement, but I don’t know whether collecting charity falls into that category or not.

  2. cliberty
    April 16, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    I like the way that you separated out games that have advertising from advergames; it is an important distinction that I think people can often get muddled about. However I disagree with your comment that the McDonald’s game was an advergame. Advergames are games, which are used to support a cause or just generally generate revenue; the McDonald’s game is a satire. It is a game that is mocking the negative and detrimental choices of the McDonald’s franchise; it is not a game that is trying to sell you a product. If you were to choose a sort of flash game hosted off the McDonald’s official website or something then that game would be an advergame. I thought your analysis into Darfur was good, but it would’ve been really cool to see some examples of advergames outside any we explored in class. An analysis of the connection between games that focus on raising money for industry, versus those that raise money for charity, would have also been a very interesting point to go into. I realize that this was probably outside the scope of your article but I think someone else could write a well-done article for this concept.

  3. Ariel
    April 17, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Initially, I was posed to disagree with you, but, after some consideration, I have found that your argument that Darfur is Dying is an advergame actually makes a great deal of sense. While it is not advertising a product or service, it IS advertising the idea that charitable and political action is required in order to influence the events happening in Darfur. Using the Taken Action advert that interrupts gameplay to provide various links, the game shifts from being simply a social commentary to a promotional work.

    Likewise, I think it should be noted that there is some concrete profit being made through Darfur is Dying, as the player is, after being subjected to guilt-inducing imagery, able to browse the sponsor mtvU’s pages concerning the issue and will find themselves, on the Take Action page, being encouraged to order a copy of an mtvU documentary regarding genocide in Sudan.

    In addition to this, mtvU has been criticized in the past as using Darfur is Dying to advertise themselves and increase flow to their website, an argument that would not be shocking, given the fact that it is a subset of MTV, which has been known to use politics for profit in the past.

    (I would like to note, however, that the McDonald’s Video Game is NOT an advergame, as it is satire criticizing McDonald’s and encouraging players to do anything BUT buy from them.)

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