For those of you who don’t know, let me clarify my title. Fable 2 is a newly-released fantasy role playing video game for the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo DS is one of the most advanced hand-held video game systems ever created. So now, you may be wondering why video games? What is so important about video games? Most people do not realize it, but the video game industry is one of the fastest growing entertainment industries in the world. Even with our crumbling economy, video game manufacturers and retailers are still turning profits. With ever-changing worlds and video games releases daily, it is not surprising that numerous people want to take a few hours a day to escape to a world of magic, fighting, and, most importantly, no responsibilities.
However, worlds and graphics are not the only things changing in the video game industry. If one looks behind the scenes, they will realize that growth in one part of the industry means growth in another. Public relations has not been left out of the mix. Ten years ago, most PR video game practitioners worked solely with trade and video game magazines. The targeted audience was mainly men, and the overall video game atmosphere was relatively narrow.
Today, this has drastically changed. The genre of video games has hit new heights. Nearly every topic you can think of now supports its own video game – from classic shooting and adventure games to the newly introduced music, cooking, and even SAT games. With video games having such a wide variety, publications and media have followed suit. The majority of publications to date are now discussing video games, from Time magazine to Cosmopolitan.
On top of that, the audience has also changed. Women have been introduced into the mix. Female gamers have always existed – the rumor that “women don’t play video games” has always been false. What is true is that the number of female gamers have jumped drastically in the last decade. In 2007, it was even rumored that there were more female online PC gamers than male.
These cultural changes have led to more resposibilites for video game PR practitioners. Not only do they have a larger audience to reach, but there are a whole lot of alternative media to contact. There are now a lot more trade shows to promote products at and get the word out. Video game marketing has changed as well. Gone are the days of commercials that contain only “screenshots” of the video game or system about to be released. Now, you have narratives, extra material, and sometimes even celebrities to help get word out about a new product.
Another big trend in the PR field has been the introduction and recent popularity or “pre-order gifts.” These snazzy little gifts are delivered to video game retailers by PR spokespeople. They are intended as an added incentive and extra bonus to pre-ordering (putting down a payment) on an upcoming game title or system. An example of this can be seen in the Fallout 3 or Dead Space pre-order bonuses.
With the majority of the work happening behind the scenes, most people don’t realize the huge impact public relations has played in the advancement of video games. For the last few months, I have been wokring at GameCrazy, a large chain of video game retailers. During my time I have had a chance to see some of the behind the scenes work. I want to tip my hat to all those hard working PR video game practitioners out there who don’t get the full credit they deserve. As a female gamer, I thank you for making this industry survive, even in our current economic condition. Having a chance to escape and have a little time for ourselves is something we all need right now.
I hope this has given you a glimpse of just some of the responsibilities video game PR practitioners have. To learn more check out, this article, and this one, and this interview. Though outdated, there is some great information contained in those articles. If you have questions of your own, please check out the facebook group. Most importantly, if you want to read a great blog (that is uopdated frequently) on video games and journalism, please check out Sore Thumbs.