Worldbuilding With Ads

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"What is midnight but another hour to make ends meet?"

I hate advertising. It’s cynical. It’s corporate. It’s everything I hate about making art. Except, you know, for the part where it helps get my art in front of eyes which potentially give me money which helps to keep my bills paid.

Which is to say, advertising is necessary. It’s a “necessary evil” in “there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism” sense.

What’s a weird anti-capitalist artist to do? Well, my goal was to make advertisement part of the art. Instead of simply creating little showcases of things that already exist to show the world our awesome new game, #iHunt: Killing Monsters in the Gig Economy, we’re actually turning the ads into art that builds on the game world and brings value to the people reading them. If you see the #iHunt ads, they’re meant to entertain, but also to help set the mood.

I have no illusions that most of the people who are going to buy this game are not already fans. So, why not use ads that add value for the people that already know who we are, and who are already excited for our new games? Yes, we want to bring in new people. But I want to do something interesting for existing fans.

Here’s the first.

"What is midnight but another hour to make ends meet?"
“What is midnight but another hour to make ends meet?”

Does this look familiar? It’s inspired heavily by the utterly fucking disgusting line of advertisements from Fiverr.

"You eat a coffee for lunch. You follor through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer."
“You eat a coffee for lunch. You follor through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer.” – This ad is property of Fiverr. I’m claiming fair use because I think it’s abundantly obvious we’re satirizing them.

When I first saw this ad, I didn’t just see a stock photo. I saw someone who had just been through a struggle. Like a monster hunt. Fiverr of course is one of the most iconic pieces of gig economy terrorism. I wrote the novel #iHunt satirizing these kinds of apps. So what better ads than satirical ads riffing on Fiverr’s monstrous, exploitative ad campaign?

"Rent won't wait for 'I'm feeling up to it.'"
“Rent won’t wait for ‘I’m feeling up to it.'”

The premise of #iHunt is a slight exaggeration of the real world financial struggles facing millions of people worldwide. It’s not even a big stretch to say that people will put their lives in dangers to make ends meet. However, with this ad campaign, I’m able to take a sarcastic, playful look at the types of struggles these people face, and the cynical ways Silicon Valley exploits them using talk of entrepreneurship and empowerment.

"Ever been hungry? Hungry enough to kill? Maybe you have what it takes. Maybe."
“Ever been hungry? Hungry enough to kill? Maybe you have what it takes. Maybe.”

This one I feel most captures the feel of the Fiverr ads, really sort of challenging/negging the audience. To me, that’s at the heart of the gig economy. It’s daring people to hurt themselves for money, and selling that like it’s a good thing.

But ultimately, the goal is to give readers and players inspiration for their characters. Do you find this an effective tool? I’m even going to be adding some of my favorites to the book in whatever random space I find.

"Need to leave him but can't afford life on your own? Get yours. All by yourself."
“Need to leave him but can’t afford life on your own? Get yours. All by yourself.”

So far, this one’s my favorite I think. It’s playful. It has a double entendre. But it also has a really dark implication. That, to me, is #iHunt to a T.

This fifth one has also gotten a pretty strong response. My goal right now is to post one of these types of ads every weekday until the game releases. That’s a fuckton of content. But so far it appears they’re getting a strong response, so hell, why not?

Anyway, these are the first five. If you’re interested in seeing more as they come out, I’ve been posting them on the #iHunt Facebook page. They’re also getting posted on the Machine Age Productions Twitter account.

Now here’s the huge, important part: If you like these ads, please consider sharing them. So far, we’ve gotten a lot of great discussion going with them. Some of the reshares have been reshared by strangers and I’ve gotten numerous people asking about the game. Games like this? Indie art? It lives and dies on word of mouth. While I might put a little budget into this ad campaign, it’s nothing compared to what you can do.

Anyway, this ultimately resulted in our first video ad. I’m super proud of this one.

I’ll probably collect more of these ads here as we progress with the experiment. Which is your favorite so far? Hit us up in the comments below. And mash those share buttons.