Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Violence leads to better recall of outdoor ads...

... in videogames :)

What... do you think my headline was misleading?  Did you not notice the "..."?

Anyway, according to Technology Review, "A team of European and U.S. researchers found ads displayed along with violent scenes to be more memorable to players than those shown with nonviolent content, even though players spent less time looking at them. The results are contrary to expectations stemming from research on television, where violence has been shown to decrease attention to advertisements. Developing a better understanding of the way advertising works in games could help game companies enhance their advertising strategies."

The researchers discovered this outcome by getting subjects to play one of two versions of a driving game.  "Those who played a violent version of the game, where the goal was to run down pedestrians, resulting in a blood-splattered screen, demonstrated significantly better recall of advertised brands than those who played the regular version. The researchers presented their work at the International Conference on Entertainment Computing last year."

Cries of desensitization notwithstanding, I can't imagine that these results would carry over to real-life scenarios, since there is plenty of well-documented evidence that memories formed during truly traumatic periods (such as witnessing an accident or act of violence) quickly become altered and/or suppressed.  Still, you just know there's some evil ad exec out there, sitting behind a desk, reading this article, stroking his white cat and thinking "Hmm...."

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