Obama burnout paradise

Quite whether voters are drawn toward high-speed road-races is unclear, but the Obama campaign has o

There was a period a few years ago when it was impossible to attend any games industry conference without someone delivering a presentation on the potential of in-game advertising. Not content with selling the game itself, seemingly every asset within the game world appeared to be up for auction. Realistic 3d models of high-level cars were sold in as objects into racing games and curiously, the street environments started to contain more and more billboards…

For an advertiser of course, videogames offer a particularly unique proposition. With the advent of a more ubiquitous and robust online content delivery system, advertising locations within games were able to change and respond to whatever media the buyer might wish to present. Campaign changes? No problem, simply push the new content to the players console via a transparent game update. As well as being an ideal way to reach the generation of young folk who have apparently stopped watching television advertising because they are online or playing games, this dynamic proposition also offers a way in which to serve advertising that is not just relevant to the game, but responsive to the players actions within it.

Quite whether Democratic-leaning voters are drawn toward high-speed road-races is unclear, but the Obama campaign decided to explore their viability as potential supporters anyway.

This week, Electronic Arts has confirmed that Obama ‘08 has purchased a number of advertisements within ten titles, including the Xbox 360 version of ‘Burnout Paradise’, the most recent iteration of the very successful racing/crashing franchise. In a model demonstration of the flexibility of in-game advertising, these ads are only running in Xbox’s being played in ten swing states.

GigaOm managed to get confirmation of the buy, after GamePolitics broke the story following a series of images posted by a Roosterteeth forum member known as ‘Jeffson’ last week.

This both is an interesting next-step for an advertising platform previously only really used for selling soft-drinks and lifestyle products, and another reason to watch what your kids are playing really carefully.

Image credit: 360 gamer “Jeffson”

Iain Simons writes, talks and tweets about videogames and technology. His new book, Play Britannia, is to be published in 2009. He is the director of the GameCity festival at Nottingham Trent University.
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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.