Water Cooler Games
Water Cooler Games served as the web's primary forum for "videogames with an agenda" — coverage of the uses of video games in advertising, politics, education, and other everyday activities, outside the sphere of entertainment.
The site was maintained at watercoolergames.org
from 2003-2009, where it was edited by myself and Gonzalo Frasca
. It is now archived here in full.
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Retro Advergaming with Coca Cola Kid
by Ian Bogost December 18, 2004
More quasi-vintage advergame news. I recently visited the World of Coca Cola here in Atlanta and discovered the limited edition Coca Cola red Sega Game Gear, complete with specially created Coca Cola Kid cartridge. It's an impressive specimen of a custom-skinned branded handheld with branded advergame. I'm not sure if another such specimen exists.
It appears to have been a Japan-only release and is quite hard to find. Screenshots of the game are available here, and I took a reasonably clear camera phone pic of the whole rig at the museum, which you can see above (click for a bigger one). From what I can tell, the game is a fairly standard 2d platformer. It appears to have also been released on Gameboy, although presumably without the custom-branded handheld.
The value of a branded handheld device is certainly debatable. On the one hand, it could create brand exposure in public places like subways. On the other hand, it really just looks like a red Game Gear to me. And the Game Gear was a fairly advanced piece of hardware for the time (c. 1990) -- it was essentially a Sega Master System in a smaller package. It even sported an optional TV tuner. It's hard to imagine buyers opting for a branded device unless it came at a steep discount or as part of a broader promotion. That said, I think it's telling that the Coca Cola Kid game itself bears a striking resemblance to online advergames of today. In 15 years, have we really made that little progress with game-based advertising?