Parent advocacy group hates EA's 'Your Mom Hates Dead Space 2' ads
A parent advocacy group on Thursday night blasted an ad created by Electronic Arts to promote its new Mature-rated horror game, Dead Space 2, saying the ad is like catnip for kids.
The ad, titled "Your Mom Hates Dead Space 2," shows footage of middle-aged women as they cringed and recoiled when shown violent scenes in the game. The clips were taken from actual focus group sessions held with about 200 volunteers. One woman, appalled, asked, "Why would they even make something like this?"
At the end of one ad, a voiceover intones, "Dead Space 2. It's everything you love in a game, and your mom's going to hate it."
It's not just moms. Common Sense Media, a family advocacy group in San Francisco, has denounced the ads, saying they inappropriately target children with the tagline. The game, which features nightmarish creatures and gory violence, has been designated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board as Mature, which is meant for players 17 and older.
In a sharply worded letter to the ESRB's president, Patricia Vance, Common Sense Media Chief Executive Jim Steyer urged the New York group to sanction Electronic Arts for creating an ad campaign that would be irresistible to teens and younger boys.
"We think it violates the ESRB's Principles and Guidelines for Responsible Advertising Practices," Steyer wrote. "The question is does the ESRB stick up for kids or not."
Vance, in a reply letter to Steyer, said the ad is clearly flagged at the beginning as being unsuitable for kids under 18. She argued that the TV ads don't air during times in which more than 35% of viewers are likely to be children.
"Surely EA is not the first company, nor will it be the last, to gin up interest in its product by conveying the notion that 'the older generation just doesn’t get it, so it has to be cool,' " Vance wrote. "And just because a product desires to be seen as 'cool' or 'edgy' does not in and of itself necessitate that it is directed at children."
An Electronic Arts spokeswoman, Amanda Taggart, said the ad campaign was reviewed and rated by the ESRB before it launched two weeks ago to coincide with the game's release Jan. 25.
"We work to ensure our marketing is 100% compliant with ESRB rules," said Taggart, who pointed out that Common Sense Media, which also reviews games on its website, gave Dead Space 2 five out of five stars. The review, however, cautioned that the game is "not for kids."
"It is an M-rated game that earns its rating and is not meant for kids or teens," wrote Common Sense reviewer Marc Saltzman. "Enemy creatures can be stabbed, shot, lit on fire, dismembered, and beheaded with the myriad of weapons at your disposal."
-- Alex Pham
Photo: Screen shot of YouTube video promoting Dead Space 2. Credit: Electronic Arts, via YouTube.