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Videogames Are No Laughing Matter

Art + Design | Blog | News

Charlie | Friday 23rd, 2011, 12:00am BST

The sequel to the Bafta award-winning videogame ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum’ goes on sale next month and the latest bit of marketing for it reminds us that Batman is a behemoth of multimedia branding. London-based games studio Rocksteady have been teasing the new game Batman: Arkham City over the past several months with a campaign of character ‘reveals’, profiling the array of classic comic villains that will feature in the game. Rocksteady has just released the latest trailer for the game featuring arguably the greatest villain in comic-book history; The Joker: In the game, as in the highly-successful animated series of the early ’90s, the Joker is voiced by actor Mark Hamill, who you may be more familiar with as a certain golden-haired young Jedi in the original Star Wars trilogy. Consider that there is currently an equivalent amount much anticipation for a Batman videogame game as there is for the next live-action movie that goes on release next year and you begin to realise that the videogame medium is beginning to mature as an entertainment platform and that it intrinsically offers the potential for deepening the consumers connection to a brand. Time and again the batman brand has proven itself to be a multimedia heavyweight, powering successful properties across virtually every media platform going. It’s worth reminding ourselves that all of these properties are based on a comic-book character that first went to print over seventy years ago and who, himself, is essentially a vigilante crime-fighter driven by the severe emotional trauma of witnessing his parent’s murder as a child. Batman on a rooftop in Arkham City In fact, one of the most striking moments in Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum was a sequence in which the player, as Batman, is forced to relive this trauma as part of an hallucinogenic encounter with The Scarecrow. There were no playable elements to this level of the game, you were simply required to walk on, into and through the event. This experiential episode in the game’s story succinctly encapsulates what Rocksteady got so very right in creating a successful Batman videogame: They recognised the fans desire for a brand experience that immerses them fully into the world of the Batman. Many have read his origin in the comics, or watched it in films, but in a videogame environment the player is the character, and Rocksteady as good as gave the player Batman’s boots to walk in. As an indication of the imminent videogame sequels cross-medial appeal right now, a tie-in album has been produced featuring an eclectic array of electrorock hipsters who are as far away stylistically from R-Kelly’s cringe-inducing ‘Gotham City’ as you could get. I could go on with my brand analysis but really I just want to watch the trailer again, so that is what I’m going to have to do. See you next week then: same bat-time, same bat-channel. Sources: MTV Europe