The New Zealand branch of Turtle Beach, maker of gaming audio headsets, have teamed up with advertising agency Droga5 to send an experienced Kiwi gamer to a real war zone in Iraq. The project ostensibly has something to do with Turtle Beach’s headsets offering a ‘real’ audio experience. The ‘mission’ was filmed and turned into a series of videos, set to be launched on YouTube.
Where to start? Adverblog question whether the project is on shaky moral ground, ‘leveraging a real-life tragedy for commercial gain’? Gaming site The Escapist is more concerned about the gamer’s safety, observing that ‘many Western governments advise against travel to this part of the world unless it’s absolutely essential.’ All fine points, but disregarding questions of taste and safety, will this project actually appeal to gamers?
Ben Ward, Turtle Beach spokesperson, said, ‘Gamers play in virtual warzones every day and night, and they want the immersive feeling of combat so we thought we’d take that experience one step further.’ Surely this understates the escapism, the vicarious thrill of gaming? The Escapist ask, ‘Did they envision gamers responding to Phil (the gamer) going to Kurdistan with awe, saying things like ‘It just got real!’ and getting excited?’