Shark Break: Saving the Oceans in 15 minutes a Day

August 8, 2009

The latest in saving the world through digital media and games: SharkBreak.

You can embed all sorts of widgets, usually with cute fish and messages about ocean preservation, onto your computer desktop. The catch line is that it gives you a “creative, fun, relaxing environment” that would hopefully encourage reflection about the marine environment, which is also often positioned as a space for contemplation and relaxation (see tropical island vacations).
Not sure how effective the message is (or if there’s really an educational component), but I applaud the effort, especially the small sea animals that follow your cursor around. Also interesting is the attempt to “wigitize” marine conservation – here’s an approach that embeds small pieces into your digital environment (shooting for ambience), rather than producing another one stop shot website for conservation information.

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Ariston Aqualtis “Underwater World” commercial

May 7, 2008

Another underwater commercial involving a washing machine. The spot starts out with a hand closing the washing machine, we zoom in through the front window, the frame disappears and we are underwater. What seems to be fish and rays are really socks and blankets. The space is pristine and magical – at the end we zoom back out to see a little boy gazing in (as through a porthole). The voice says, “the new Ariston Aqualtis. Deeply different.”

This commercial, like the Farmers insurance spot I wrote about earlier, depicts underwater space (specifically within the washing machine) as a transformative and surreal space where anything is possible (and any type of cleaning is possible). This particular spot won a Gold Lion at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.


Battle for the Coral Reefs

April 9, 2008

Battle for the Coral Reefs” is a version of the classic shooter game adapted for underwater environments. The initial description reads:

“Our scene begins three years following the great arctic devastation. With eighty percent of the planet underwater, humanity’s only hope is to help heal what is remaining. Clear the ocean of waste, and bring back the amazing coral reefs.”

Trapped in a post-apocalyptic underwater future , you swirl around in a fish-inspired space ship shooting trash. When you level up, parts of the coral reef grow back. The controls and dynamic are limited and aren’t really adapted for an underwater setting.

“Battle for the Coral Reefs” is a politically oriented newsgame that uses the coral reef crisis as a stimulus for the game’s narrative. Beyond this, it doesn’t really engage the underwater space or the environmental issues.


Conserve Our Ocean Legacy: Ocean Survivor Game

April 6, 2008

This video game is part of the Conserve Our Ocean Legacy campaign to end overfishing. You are a fish and must escape various types of fishing (trawlers, hook and line, etc). When you are caught, the game displays information about the type of fishing that caught you.

You naturally sink in this game and your only control is to swim upward (and jump out of the water). This parallels the goal of the game, which is simply to stay alive (but you eventually die. The effect of the game, like many other political newsgames, is to basically demonstrate the futility of trying to win (for a fish) and potentially effect frustration in the player which can then be channeled towards change.


“Drowned Circus” commercial for Farmers Insurance

April 1, 2008

This commercial for Farmers Insurance starts with an extravagant dream sequence of an underwater circus (played by Cirque de Soliel actors). The aesthetics and atmospherics of the sequence parallel those of the underwater bride photography in the previous post (everything is in slow-motion, it seems timeless and preserved). It’s interesting how weight is depicted here: circus tricks typically depend on the pull (and threat) of gravity to make their feats impressive. Here the actors perform this gravity, simulating out of water conditions under water to make the spectacle. Yet at the same time this performance comes off somewhat ironic and serves to reinforce the punchline at the end, the humor of a flooded circus.