In case you’ve come here from somewhere else, please note that this is a companion post with ‘Three Reasons Why the Dead Island Trailer is Fantastic’ I’m presenting both sides of the argument as in all honestly, I’m finding the debate itself fascinating, and feel empathy with both points of view. Aspects of the thoughts contained in BOTH pieces do reflect my own thoughts and it’s left me feeling divided myself, so as such I invite you to make your own mind up on the debate. I won’t however embed the trailer itself out of respect to those who don’t want to watch it, but if you do – and take heed the reminder that it has scenes that some may find upsetting – you can find it here.

Unless you’ve been living under a gaming news rock in the last 24 hours, you can’t have failed to notice the Dead Island trailer currently doing the rounds on the internet. A harrowing and brutally dark trailer for a game announced way back in 2007 by Techland, it’s been picked up by Deep Silver and is being touted as a first person melee-focused zombie survival game. But you can read up on the game elsewhere; I’m here to talk about three of the reasons that I believe that the trailer is unnecessarily harrowing and an altogether tragically ill-judged piece of marketing:

Immaturity


If we’re being brutally honest, Gamers are a bit of an immature bunch when it comes down to it. Yes, there’s games for adults and there’s games that purport to have darker, gritter themes – but there’s a distinct difference between ‘adult’ and ‘mature’. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having some fun and unwinding at the end of a long day, but even those games that are exclusively for adults like Dead Space 2, Grand Theft Auto and the upcoming Bulletstorm seem to think being adult means being gory, vulgar and at times, offensive for the sake of it. Whether you like to admit it or not, there are sadly, times when gaming seems like a child allowed to stay up past his bed time, sticking his tongue out to the player. A worrying sign is that one of the characters is to be a ‘former rapper named Sam B’ – it’s very presumptuous of me, but a character with an occupation of ‘rapper’ is not in my opinion, a very relatable character to many game playing adults at all. The fact that that point is apparently relevant enough to mention by the devs at all gives me cause for concern about the actual ‘maturity’ of the finished game.

Of course, there’s room for mature games, and quite frankly there are signs of those titles that are encroaching on more adult themes – Heavy Rain being a good example. But if you’re going to be mature about an issue, is a zombie apocalypse – a theme strictly rooted in fiction from it’s very concept – a mature place to put it in? The use of a child, and furthermore their death and resurrection seems gratuitous and could be seen simply as a ploy to get more people talking and literally sell the idea of the game, as opposed to the game itself. It’s worked, but are they talking about it for the right reasons? Child death is a horrible horrible subject which, despite never having experienced myself is something I wouldn’t wish on anybody. An important point that I think is very interesting to note: would the trailer have the same impact if the focus was on, say, an adult woman and her boyfriend’s failed attempt to save her?

In The Game?


Let’s face it. We know none of this footage will likely be in the game itself. Whether you’ll have a family yourself to protect is yet to be confirmed and more to the point whether these adult themes and motivations will actually make it into the finished product. For all we know, we could be seeing something similar to Dead Rising 2 (which notably also contained the aspect of a child to protect during the zombie apocalypse.) If the game can’t have the same emotional impact as the trailer, then all the creators of the trailer appear to have achieved is producing a piece of shock for shock’s sake, cheapening the whole thing and especially the death of a child – even if she is virtual.

Techland have a lot to live up now, by releasing what they have as their trailer. Games aren’t known for their delicate handling of matters and the fact that this trailer shows very little to nothing in terms of actual gameplay, the family photos at the end of it – while definitely having the presumably intended effect of showing how the apocalypse has destroyed the idyllic life, means very little if the player is going to end up distanced from that. And even if they’re not, it won’t sit comfortably at all with gamers, especially parents, to go through the events of the trailer, so in effect the creators may have dug themselves into a hole from which it’s going to be very difficult to escape from.

All Mouth, No Trousers


Speaking of missing the point – a trailer is supposed to sell a product – cause you to want to buy the product to see more or find out what happens to the people involved or to generate excitement to the point of making people want to buy into what is being sold. Whereas yes, the trailer certainly has got people talking, I feel that more people are talking about the trailer itself than the game. When it comes down to it, shock value is shock value -and that’s exactly what they’ve done here. People have been shocked into talking about it, either thinking it’s brilliant or being disturbed and slightly worried about it.

Naturally, it’s all good to have this massively talked about, mature trailer that has a huge impact, but if the game can’t match up to the standards shown in the trailer it means very little. Given the content of the trailer it’s fairly easy to come to the conclusion that the people featured in it likely won’t be making an appearance in the game itself so already there’s a degree of dissonance. They’re making us emotionally invested in people who by the time the game itself is being played could sadly be forgotten about. If the finished product doesn’t justify the attention that the trailer has received, all we’re left with is a very poorly misjudged publicity stunt.

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One Response to Three Reasons Why the Dead Island Trailer is Terrible

  1. Glynn says:

    I’ve hunted round to try and find out if it’s just me that had this view on the game trailer. (seems a lot of folks got upset by it).
    I was seriously looking forward to this game. and I must admit it still looks promising, but after the trailer came out (and yes I’m a dad) I was appalled by the use of a child to demonstrate the effects of the apocalypse, especially when you add in the devastating reality of the the parent’s failure to save the child – well the trailer had the girl infected before the parent could barely react.

    If you took this trailer out of the equation I would be completely sold on the game based on the other trailers, but now I shall wait until I see the reviews and game plot details. If a player doesn’t have the opportunity to prevent the events in the trailer, then I simply won’t buy it. I’ve already heard rumours that if you play a certain character and go into a room near to your starting area you can see the dead parents. If that is the case, major fail.

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