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February 9, 2010

Going to Hell in an Xbox

I watched the Superbowl. I saw this commercial. My jaw dropped in horror. What has become of this country?

One commentator said, "The Super Bowl ad claimed, 'hell awaits,' and players who fire up "Dante's Inferno" on their Xbox 360 can dive right in to slay all sorts of demons and dark lords to save the girl from Satan's grasp. There's even a level where players can take on knife-wielding unbaptized babies. Kill enough of them, and players will unlock an "achievement" called the "Bad Nanny" award.

The ad almost didn't make the airwaves, however, when CBS rejected it for concluding with the tagline, "Go to hell." After Electronic Arts changed the final phrase to "Hell awaits," however, it got the nod. The approved Super Bowl ad can be seen below:

Editor's note: The advertisement contains frightening and occult imagery.

12 comments:

  1. I agree that this is disturbing and twisted in its treatment of the subject, but at least these folks don't deny the existence of hell. That's half the battle, after all: to acknowledge the reality of hell and the devil. Now, for the rest of the Catechism...

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  2. The advertising for this game had been over the line way before this ad. Remember last year, when EA hired actors to portray fundamentalist Christian protesters outside their offices for publicity? This game can't be very good if they need to resort to these tactics. Video games fall under my (I think coined it, at least) Andy's Theory of Inverse Advertising. First applied to movies, the theory is that the more aggressive advertisements are, the worse the product (movie, video game) actually is.

    Good games and movies don't need heavy advertising. Word of mouth and reviews are enough to put butts in the seats.

    Honestly, how many ads for Avatar or Lord of the Rings did you see? Not many, actually. You can't turn the TV on without seeing The Wolfman. My prediction? A bomb.

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  3. As someone who follows the gaming press with some regularity I will say this much: EA has a horrible reputation within the gaming industry as a publisher of derivative and uninspiring dreck with budgets that would make James Cameron wince. If I recall, in preview given to gaming website Joystiq, they were quoted as saying "There's no getting around the fact that Dante's Inferno is a blatant mechanic-for mechanic facsimile of God of War". In an effort to shake off this image EA has engaged in a massive marketing blitz, including a viral ad campaign which had backfired and had caused ire even among the typically jaded mainstream gaming community. This game will end up being chucked to the dust heap of history once EA has milked all the shock value they can out of this. I expect a scathing review by Ben "Yahtzee" Crenshaw and nary more than a peep afterward. My only real concern will be the further muddle that comes things like this. in reference I am thinking of stuff like the davinci code or the exorcist, another thing to pile onto the holywood catholocism that nobody in their right mind would take seriously. After all I never sought theology lessons from Castlevania or Doom, why should I start now?

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  4. @kindred Spirit: acknowlegment of Hell? no way. This kind of over exaggeration/characterizing is what makes people think Satan and Hell are folklore.

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  5. I agree with Sarah Harkins on this point. The sad fact is that though most well reasoned individuals can see past the theological muddle of this stuff its the 18-27 demographic EA is aiming for that will most likely get caught up in the mess and if they had a skewed idea of what Christianity was already this will not help. I should think it has an interesting implication connected to our identities with regard to male and female roles within Christianity. What I mean to say is that as societies ideas of the two become merged to the point of no differentiation it is not surprising to see a reaction which causes exaggerated stereotypes to emerge to fill a void once occupied by rational truth.

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  6. I agree with Sarah,

    This kind of thing trivialises the really horrific reality which is hell. Hollywood did something similar in the whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer thing and the likes - all you need to know in order to defeat a demon, it seemed, was a few kung fu moves and a couple of magic spells. The reality is that the only moves that can overcome an attack of the evil spirits is the movement of the Holy Spirit within one's soul. and the movement of your Guardian Angel, Our Lady and the saints on your behalf. Our battle, after all, is not of flesh and blood.

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  7. The game is being defended as an artistic expression of Dante's Inferno, yet art is not art if it's pornographic. (One of the reasons I don't consider Shasphere to be a great artist)

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  8. SIGH! One of Italian's greatest literature works ruined like this...

    As an Italian I take offense (and as a video game player as well :P)

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  9. The tv show Supernatural is another example. They started out strong in the first two seasons with the demons who actually possessed people's bodies instead of eating them and were exorcised with actual Latin prayers. But now its the fifth season and the Apocalypse is here with Lucifer unleashed from Hell. Except that Lucifer is not a demon, he's a fallen angel (apparently they're different) who made human souls into demons (apparently he can do that) and is worshipped by them. He needs to possess a vessel (ok that makes sense) in order to fight Michael who also needs to possess a vessel. In this universe, angels possess people. They also die. Its all sorts of screwed up theology.

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  10. just read Dante's Inferno. Dante definitely did not mean his work to be a video game. The tale was one of incredible sorrow over failed lives. His tale was far more brutal and truthful than anything that EA would dare to come out with. Another example of marketers playing on real, important human phenomena for the sake of titillation.

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  11. The makers of this junk are using viral marketing promoting a video game that mocks the Mass. When you go to the site for the "Mass" game it takes you to a trailer for Dante's Inferno. Yuck.

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  12. As an avid gamer I'd love to see something using the richness of Christian imagery without having to dumb it down to this level so the supposed 'XBOX-jocks' will love it. The majority of gamers are much more sophisticated than this, as established by best selling games like Bioshock or Mass Effect, and don't need to be spoken down to any longer by people wanting to make a quick buck.

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