From Nuka Cola and Tediore to Umbrella Corp and Spacer’s Choice, video games are full of fictional products and brands. Some are narrowly dodging trademark infringement, some have full lines of products with distinct style, some are jokes, and some have complex in-fiction histories. Reader dear, which is your favourite and why? Mine is a cat food.
In the rusty depths of a subway crawling with meatmonsters, Silent Hill 3 has this absolute joy of a billboard:
While some games painstakingly design brands grounded in their time and place, SH3 casually drops Minmo into a hellmaze. These puffball cats! The Comic Sans text! The colours! And the slogan: “Growing Strong and Healthy …..MINMO!” It’s so silly, and I adore it. Minmo inspires brand loyalty too; here’s streamer and Let’s Player “Void Burger” with her excellent ad for the best cat food in gaming:
I do also have a soft spot for Destiny’s Veist, a brand who are basically Razer but making guns for immortal spaceghosts instead of kewl keyboards. They put out automatic weapons with stabby protusions and edgy names like Black Scorpion, Arsenic Bite, and Death Adder. They go hard on green and black, flecked with glowing bits. Guardians can even dress in Veist-branded clobber. Sure, the Omolon foundry’s weapons are way cooler with their orbs of gunjuice instead of magazines, but Veist is so tryhard in a way I fully hate as a brand yet appreciate as a fictional creation.
I like that video game brands are free from a lot of the baggage of real-world brands. They’re not status symbols or aspirational purchases to me, they’re not used to judge people. Quality isn’t a consideration beyond raw numbers, and I’m not paying a premium for a name. By and large, I experience them as a particular design style I appreciate or a stupid joke I enjoy. I suppose premium cosmetics take the role of signifying wealth and prestige in many games – see kids being bullied over their Fortnite skins.
Back to the fun brandchat, I am reminded of the sterling work of The Video Game Soda Machine Project, which catalogues the brands and dispensers of fauxzzy pop.
Where do your virtual brand loyalties lie? Which games have impressed you with attention to detail? Or which have tickled with stupid puns?