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Game On: Stage 1, Round 1, World 1-1, Tutorial Level… Let’s-a go!

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Gaming and marketing are increasingly becoming intertwined, with gaming emerging as an extremely rich playground and marketing moving into non-traditional spaces. In his introductory preview of what’s to come in his regular column, Digitas Philippines’ Head of Experience and Innovation Rey Tiempo uses nostalgia to hype up gamingXmarketing, an apt term beyond the loosely tossed advergaming.

It is 1993. 

“Stage 1, Round 1, World 1-1, Tutorial Level… let’s-a go!” or “Game & Watch-men” (with apologies to Mr. Alan Moore)


I am hunched over an arcade machine, in one tiny basement corner of one of the busiest malls in Manila. This amusement place itself is not that big nor impressive, certainly unlike its spacier, fancier versions on the second floor of the same mall, with the coin-operated basketball hoops, and the whac-a-moles. No, this tiny amusement corner just happens to have arcade cabinets of currently the biggest game ever – Street Fighter II.  One particular version of this game, the World Warrior Edition, is famous for its game-breaking glitches which give some particular characters a bigger edge than the rest. The glitch moves themselves are very hard to pull off, take hours of practice, precise timing, and a little bit of luck to execute. 

I am usually with my friends (we all go to the same high school nearby) but this afternoon, I am all alone. I choose my go-to character, Guile, and start going through my usual game. I pull off the glitch move easily – the “handcuff” where Guile’s opponent gets stuck to his side for the remainder of the game. It looks absolutely bonkers if you do it right, and the crowd of kid spectators gathering behind me cannot believe what they are seeing. Now comes the even trickier part – to get out of the handcuff glitch with another set of hard-to-execute button combinations. If I can’t do it before timer runs out, the game freezes and I will have to uncomfortably call on one of the attendants to manually reset the machine (which is majorly embarrassing.) 

Time is running out and I start to panic. I am about to miserably lose my gamer cred right in front of thousands (ok, maybe more like ten kids, but it sure feels like thousands.) 

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, this kid from another school shoves me out of the way, and says “Move it, I got this.” He sits on my seat, executes the move right in the nick of time, gets me out of the tight spot effortlessly, high-fives me, and just scuttles right back to his own game in another arcade machine, just a few steps away. Whoa.

You see, this kid (he’s probably a few  years older than me so I should stop calling him a kid) comes not just from any other school, but a rival school (yup that’s a game reference, but let’s get back to the story.) While students from our school are known to be tough on our grades, the students from our rival school are known to be legit tough dudes – they literally beat us up for loose change, when they meet us out in the streets.

What happened was nothing short of a miracle. Here, in this tiny corner arcade, away from the streets, away from any school authority, away from our own support groups of friends, we were somehow *gasp* equals! He not only helped me out with my game big time, but even bolstered my gamer street cred, with that huge high five in front of the thousands in attendance! (About five cheered with me. In my head.)

Video courtesy of Sharopolis. (2018, February 16). Street Fighter II – Guile’s Handcuff Glitch Move Explained 

Although not as complex and increasingly multi-faceted as it is these days,  gaming culture during those semi-formative years (in the country) already displayed its biggest and most important tenet. All in that one particular moment, in that tiny arcade tucked away in some basement mall. It’s the same principle that all gaming communities are built upon — that gamers instinctively help each other out. 

It is 2022. 

I am wrapping up a big client presentation, having just showed some of my team’s latest case studies on gaming and brands and how the disciplines are getting more intertwined. Feeling like Doctor Manhattan, I somehow know what their first question will be. “It’s all well and good and very impressive… but where do we start?” 

The intersection of gaming and marketing is in this peculiar space, not unlike the handcuff glitch move earlier described – somehow looking absolutely awkward if not done right, and very much seemingly doomed to fail if certain move combinations aren’t executed properly. The two disciplines have been increasingly cross-pollinating each other, especially in recent years, as gaming takes on a bigger chunk of our resources and time, while marketing moves effortlessly into extremely non-traditional spaces (hello, metaverse, but I am getting ahead of myself.) And although some extensive, fascinating data is already out there, at least in APAC (courtesy of Newzoo commissioned by Google found on this link), and yes some brands are indeed already making great strides in gaming work, this new territory we find ourselves in is still very much uncharted (heh), especially here in the Philippines, and especially for most of the brands we get to work with. Yes, there is a term being tossed around – “advergaming” to describe gaming work done by brands. I feel though the term is too limiting and lacks the bravery (it IS just a portmanteau of advertising + gaming after all) and the synthesis needed to fully understand and represent this space we are in – which encompasses the overall Experience (strategic framework and creative thinking vis-a-vis the end-to-end customer/ gamer and brand journey).

And so, I believe a proper walkthrough, a little dip into a tutorial level, or some tips and tricks are in order.  This column aims to do just that. This spot will be our tiny corner arcade, where secret moves will be shared, adversaries will be conquered, high fives and successes will be cheered, and definitely rules will be written and re-written – gamingXmarketing style! (The X symbolizing the crossover and intersection of disciplines, and also the overall “eXperience” of this space we are playing in.)

We will do this by hearing straight from the gaming industry – we’ll ask the gaming brands, groups, and companies, esports talents, game streamers and other gaming movers and shakers. We’ll invite fellow gamers in the advertising industry and hear about their gaming alter egos – from the hardcores, to the weekend warriors, to the casuals. Along the way, let’s stop by some gaming award shows and conventions, and feature some of the biggest, most significant winners (the BAFTA Games Awards has just wrapped up and has announced some very interesting winners – more on this as we go!) Sure, we can throw in some game reviews, both the latest and the classics and throwback bests (I’ve devised an entirely unique review system, from the POV of a time-challenged, deadline-chasing, caffeine-powered advertising industry person – watch out for it!);  and maybe some gadget recommendations as well. And of course, we will feature some of the very best gamingXmarketing work – there is a lot already out there, to learn from and to build upon, especially at a time when more and more industry award shows are dedicating categories to gaming.

So whether you’re a marketer who’s just curious about gaming; or a brand-builder who wants to dive deeper and better understand the gamingXmarketing intersects to ultimately, find out why it matters in today’s marketing landscape; or an advertising creative, like me, who thinks that gaming is the ultimate form of creativity and is an extremely rich playground; or again like me, just a plain ‘ol gamer, looking for a good amount of fun, reading about (and yes playing) video games … welcome!

Game on!


Rey Tiempo is Head of Experience and Innovation at Digitas Philippines. He also heads a team of DLCs – “Downloadable Creatives” for gaming and campaigns at Co-Op Play, an on-demand group of specialists. He has served as President of the Creative Guild of the Philippines, and has spent the last twenty-plus years leading teams to award-winning creative and effective work in Publicis Groupe, VMLY&R, Dentsu, BBDO, and Leo Burnett. Gamer, musician, comic book enthusiast, and relentless collector, Rey keeps himself immersed in platforms by creating content. Currently playing: Returnal, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Ghostwire:Tokyo, Vampire the Masquerade:Bloodhunt. Nier: Replicant.

Column masthead by Creative Director and DLC, Dennis Nierra.

Partner with adobo Magazine

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