Sunday, December 4, 2011

Aubrey Plaza's World of Warcraft commercial: hit or miss?

Have you seen the new World of Warcraft commercial featuring Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation)? If you haven’t, check it out. Even if you’ve never played WoW, it’s an interesting clip.

Aubrey plays a woman whose boyfriend gave her World of Warcraft as a birthday gift instead of diamonds (as she states, he says she can mine diamonds). In the end, she becomes a gamer, her boyfriend feels as if he isn’t as important in her life and she dumps him.

I think this commercial is hilarious. Plenty of bloggers and others online have made various comments bashing the commercial saying that it follows the idea that a woman wants diamonds, she only becomes a gamer through a male significant other and that the commercial shows a consequence of gaming addiction. There’s no argument that the whole “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” and a woman needs a man to game with stereotypes shouldn’t be perpetuated.

It works both ways. I’ve known men who became gamers because of women along with the scenario that occurs in the commercial. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. Blizzard’s best move at this point would be to put out another commercial starring a woman going on about her character without any mention of a significant other. It’s fantastic to see a female advertising the game. Perhaps Blizzard unnecessary felt that they had to ease into it.

Despite all of the studies showing how many gamers are female, it feels as if we hit a brick wall when it comes to media. Female gamers only join because a man invites them, female gamers aren’t as good as male and many other scenarios appear in various TV shows. The way to break this mold isn’t to create commercials or sitcom plotlines that show a woman acting exactly like a male gamer. Good female characters are not male characters with breasts. That’s not how it works. It’s lazy character development. Create a female character and make her a gamer. Have it fit her personality. She doesn’t have to sit in the basement, face covered in acne and eating Cheetos. It’s bad enough that gamer men are stuck in that stereotype. Do we have to add women to it, too?

The question remaining is who is the commercial targeting? I didn’t feel as if Blizzard was trying to convince me to play the game (taking out the fact that I’ve played it). It felt as if it was geared toward guys, suggesting that they buy the game for their girlfriend/wife to get her involved. Or, depending on your point of view, it was warning people what happens when you get someone too into gaming.

Overall, the Aubrey Plaza WoW commercial has done something- it’s brought the idea of female gamers to the masses. It wasn’t executed perfectly, but it’s a start.

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