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Game With Fame: Play Against Famous Rejection
posted by: Aaron Stanton
date posted: 12:37 PM Mon Dec 11th, 2006
last revision: 03:06 PM Mon Dec 11th, 2006

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Click to read.I personally don\'t mind the possibilities of in-game advertising. I certainly don\'t want PSP games mentioned by an in-game character while playing a fantasy RPG, but the possibility of coke machines that always serve the latest beverage doesn\'t bother me.

Sometimes, though, funny results happen when advertising campaigns collide. Take the latest celebrity that\'s going to appear on Game With Fame, a Microsoft PR campaign that lets average gamers play online with celebrities via Xbox Live. In the past, Game With Fame has let people play online with celebrities like Cliffy B and Tenacious D, certifiably cool people that legitimately appeal to the average gamer. Playing on Xbox Live, of course, means that you not only get to compete with them in one game or another, you also get to chat with them via your headset during play, which I think is the real appeal of the program. In other words, it\'s sort of like having an opportunity to chat with the celebrity on the phone for a while; you get a sense of personality as well as a feeling for their skill level.

And then we get to tomorrow\'s Game With Fame, an event that barely makes sense beyond the obvious advertising implications. On December 12th, 2006, some lucky gamer will have the opportunity to match swords with the Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma and... The Burger King.

I kid you not.

Some lucky gamer is going to have the opportunity to play online via vocal interaction with the masked Burger King mascot, a mythical advertising celebrity that doesn\'t ever speak. Ever. There\'s an irony behind giving people a chance to sit down and chat online with someone that\'s not going to say anything back. It\'s like being rejected on your first date with someone that has nothing to say; when it all boils down to it, you\'ll be talking to an empty void for the length of the game.

When we called the PR firm on the press release, they confirmed that The King will not be talking to the people he\'s playing with.

Instead of chatting with Jack Black like the other Game With Famers, you get to run silent laps with that guy that\'s sitting creepily in the back of the room. Who could pass up the opportunity to talk to an empty void for - presumably - an awkward 15 minutes? Certainly not me. In fact I\'m considering starting a phone business that lets people call in and voice their concerns to a blank tape, which I later claim to be a celebrity of their choice. Want to talk to Paris Hilton for 10 minutes without interruption?

Please press 1 now.

Plus, since The Burger King originates from a series of 1980s commercials where The King was played by an actual person instead of a costume, Game With Fame really only lets you play with the latest actor portraying The King, but... considering that you can\'t hear him or see him behind the mask - or recognize him if you did - why would you really care? As far as the player is concerned it could be the studio intern playing you online and you wouldn\'t know the difference. In all fairness, it is the actor that currently wears the suit in the commercials, but even then... I mean, seriously, what are you going to say to him? You get to wave to him via the camera in the moment before the game starts, and then hope he didn\'t hand the controller to the guy next to him and go get a coke once the action begins.

There\'s nothing wrong with playing The King online via Game With Fame, and let\'s not forget that you also play with Jonathan Vilma, a real life celebrity who has a personality and functional vocal cords. But if you look at the online promotion of the event, you find that Vilma is not really the celebrity that\'s being pushed. The King\'s picture is the one you see on Game With Fame website, and you register to play at bkgamer.com.

I just find that there is immense irony in playing online with a non-existent personality that can\'t interact with you in a meaningful way. It\'s just kind of like being invited to meet a celebrity and getting introduced to a cardboard cutout instead. It just smacks slightly of lack of substance.

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