Saturday, November 28, 2009

Most people would have only played it on Easter and Christmas, anyway

Dante’s Inferno is just the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it? No other game has inspired me to write a post containing the words “time-traveling sentient horseshoe crabs” and provided an opportunity to make my first foray into the hip, cutting-edge "jokes about religious hostility to money-lending in the Late Middle Ages" subgenre of humor.

You might have seen a recent trailer for a game entitled Mass: We Pray, ostensibly a collection of religiously themed minigames, that promised to let you "go to Church every day without leaving your home" and provided the URLto a Mass: We Pray site. To the surprise of no one with an IQ higher than my cat's, it has been revealed to be a hoax. A bit less predictably, it's turned out to be more marketing from Electronic Arts for Dante's Inferno.

This is not Electronic Arts' first foray into religiously-charged marketing stunts for the game; you may recall the "protest" of the game at E3 by a group of religious demonstrators that turned out to have been staged by EA. I thought the fake E3 protest was pretty dumb and reeked of desperation, but I can at least understand its relevance to Dante's Inferno. It's a game about demons and hell, so the idea that it could spark religious protests is not implausible. I'm at a loss as to what Mass: We Pray has to do with the game, aside from continuing the "religiously tinged, potentially offensive bid for attention" theme of the staged E3 protest and the short-lived, ill-received "molest our female employees" promotion at Comic Con. It's apparently supposed to represent the "Heresy" circle of Hell, which just makes me hope that the game's developers have a clearer understanding of what the word "heresy" means than its marketers do.

EA seems to be trying to make each promotional effort goofier, more likely to piss people off, and less relevant to the actual game being promoted than the last. Presumably this trend will continue, and the marketing for Dante's Inferno will escalate until finally reaching a climax in the last weeks before the game's release when EA starts uploading ads for a mysterious site called "" (actually a viral site for the game, of course) to Youtube, featuring actors portraying the Super Mario brothers, Martin Luther King Jr., the Virgin Mary, and Adolf Hitler tearing pages out of a Bible to use as rolling papers and then passing an enormous doobie around the room while engaging in an obscenity-strewn conversation about which of the chicks from Gilligan's Island they'd rather nail.

Most shockingly of all, Luigi will actually pick Ginger. No one ever picks Ginger.

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