A ‘tongue-in-cheek’ message aimed at parents has missed the mark as Twitter voices its opinion on this failed marketing campaign.
Marketing can be a devilish thing to get right. If the messaging isn’t handled correctly and the target audience isn’t determined beforehand, it can blow up in your face. In steps English Heritage. The charity, which cares for over 400 historic sites, monuments and buildings were catapulted into the social media limelight today thanks to a campaign that has been branded by many as being dismissive of the ‘heritage aspect to games’.
Shared in a Tweet by Paul Kilduff-Taylor, an indie developer for Mode 7 and trustee of the National Videogame Museum (NVM) in Sheffield, a leaflet being handed out to parents is the cause of the complaints. The video game development side of Twitter is incredibly active and once this reached the right circles, it quickly garnered a lot of support. A good number of respondents even called out gaming for boosting historical interest, such as VR applications and the Discovery Tour mode in the Assassin’s Creed series. You can find Paul’s original post below:
@EnglishHeritage that’s a no from me and also the entire UK games industry – how about collaborating instead of this nonsense? There’s a huge heritage aspect to games which you’re casually dismissing with this daft campaign pic.twitter.com/UOLyD27zJI
— Paul Kilduff-Taylor (@mode7games) February 11, 2020
In a comedic reply, building on the traction gained by Paul’s post, the NVM mocked up their own flyer and shared that online, tagging in the official Twitter account of English Heritage to prompt a more direct response.
We fixed it for you. pic.twitter.com/LNYK0Ms5V9
— The National Videogame Museum (@nvmuk) February 11, 2020
It didn’t take long for English Heritage’s social media team to respond. Writing diligently to a number of comments, with a variation of the same response, the seemingly genuine apologetic tweets went out to the NVM and Paul also:
(2/2) We recognise the power of digital and video gaming. Our partnership with Google Arts and Culture, our Minecraft workshops and the recent VR reconstruction of St Augustine’s Abbey are just some of the ways we champion the gaming industry.
— English Heritage (@EnglishHeritage) February 11, 2020
The surprisingly civil discussion that unraveled after the fact has resulted in the NVM publicly pitching a collaborative project to English Heritage, with them then asking the NVM to slide into their DMs. That’s not the way I saw this going when it first started to blow up.
There’s nothing that bands the industry and the gaming community-at-large together like an external slight. Developers weighed in on the subject with Jake Birkett of Grey Alien Games stating that “this doesn’t have to be a binary choice either. We visited numerous heritage sites as research in order to make our recent historical videogames.” Chris Payne, a BAFTA juror and former TT Games developer added, “gamers fucking LOVE antiquated weaponry. And castles. IDK what their marketing people were thinking…”
What do you think about this pamphlet? Is it a swing and a miss for English Heritage’s marketing team or are we all just too quick to take anger? Let us know in the comments below.