So here are some things that I have actual personal and professional experience with:
- video games
- death threats
Here are some things that apparently some nice folks at Square Enix do not have personal or professional experience with:
- video games
- death threats
To break this down for those of you playing along at home, here is the summary: the marketing geniuses for Hitman Absolution, which already had a great vibe owing to its pre-release trailer that was focused primarily on some sexy nun murdertorture and otherwise super-gratuitous ladyviolence, decided that the way to get the word out about their kind of sort of Not Living Up To Expectactions game was to release an app that lets you put hits on your Facebook friends.
Everything that is wrong with Facebook: that.
You select a friend, and then select an identifying characteristic and reason for the hit from a static dropdown list within the app that changes on binary gender. Identification options for women include such fun body-policing bullshit as, according to RPS, “small breasts” and “hairy legs,” and identification options for dudes include “receding hairline.” The reasons for murder are also super fun, like cheating on her partner or being too fat. Gender-specific body policing: definitely my idea of a good great fun time.
Everything that is wrong with the gaming industry and culture: that.
There are so many things going completely fucking wrong here that I’m having trouble unpacking them all.
Point the first: marketing fail
Look. The purpose of a marketing campaign is to spread awareness of a product or service, especially to those people who may not be aware of your product or service. It’s about drumming up new business, expanding market share, and building your brand. With a social media campaign, it’s even more specific: you are using your current customers to do the legwork of finding new customers for you. What had to have happened on the marketing team for this product is that someone in charge said that the ROI would be a) reaching existing gamers who were unaware of this title launch and b) converting new players to this franchise (almost certainly in the 18-34 white male demographic). They are actively courting people who have never heard of Hitman and never played it before — and some committee mastermind thought threatening people with assassination was the best way to introduce people to the franchise. What the fuuuuuuuuuck.
Point the second: know your audience, or: not everyone on Facebook knows what shooters are
Hey, who remembers when the Onion ran an article about children learning witchcraft from Harry Potter and some extremely gullible people took it seriously and started passing it around as truth and using it as their reason for why it should be banned from libraries and yoinked off children’s shelves? Yeah. Those same kinds of people are going to see this “You should be killed!” assassination link on their kid’s/friends/some dude’s Facebook wall and they are going to flip their fucking shit. Do we really want to revive GTA-style Jack Thompsonian GAMES KILL panic? Really? Because I don’t think we do, and I think we are all incredibly grateful that we’ve mostly moved on from this bullshit. So LET’S NOT ENCOURAGE IT, OKAY?
Point the third: omfg death threats wtf
I am a woman who expresses opinions on the internet. I get threats. It happens. I’m also a bullying survivor, and friends with several others. I know what this shit does to people. I don’t care if you think this is a great funny ha ha joke to share among your friends; that’s your business. Here’s the thing, though: there’s nothing in this app that says this is a private in-joke between you and your friends. You can send a hit to anyone on your list, whether they agree to it or not, and I don’t know about y’all but I have way more than just my (incredibly small) circle of close personal friends on my Facebook list. I have second cousins and my stand partner from seventh grade marching band and professional contacts and shit on my list, which is a pretty broad swath of population. I would not be comfortable getting a Lol Assassination from any one of those people, and it’s not at all outside of the realm of possibility that people can use this app for seriously nefarious reasons. Plus there’s the delightful truism that people have been murdered for such delightful reasons as leaving their partner while having the temerity to have small breasts. Just, you know, throwing that out there.
Do we really want something like this representing our culture to the rest of the world?
Why does this shit keep happening?