Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Rip & Tear (Child-Appropriate Variant)

Posted by Sean Hull on March 30, 2017

The assigned readings for today offered a variety of content, but “How Spreadability Changes How We Think about Advertising” was perhaps the most interesting of the lot. Though it focused on the results of advertising when produced without considering target contexts, and suggested that advertising may be better served by a “spreadability” model that designs advertisements as media, the lack of positive examples of advertising-as-media is a disappointment. However, this disappointment proves to be my opportunity. An opportunity to talk about Chex Quest.

Released in 1996, Chex Quest was a first-person shooter based off DOOM, but redesigned to be appropriate for all ages. Commissioned by General Mills to promote Chex Cereal, Chex Quest was distributed for free in Chex Cereal Boxes [1].

Though unlike any traditional advertisement, Chex Quest seems an excellent example of advertising-as-media. Chex Quest was a fantastic variation of a classic first-person shooter, retailored to be appropriate for younger audiences. This alone must have ensured its popularity among its target audience, who, if raised anything like myself, would have been kept away from the gore and satanic imagery present in DOOM. Furthermore, the sheer quality of the game, even when distanced from its original context, has ensured its continuing popularity: as of 2016, an impressive HD fan remake has been teased to the public, albeit sans release date [2].

Well, now that Chex Quest has been discussed, I suppose an appropriate question would be how did I learn about it? Though I am only this game’s elder by one year, I remember watching friends play it; presumably they inherited it from an older sibling. I never knew the title of the game, but its vibrant aesthetic and captivating gameplay made a strong impression. Just this year, I took the time to track it down, and was shocked to discover that something so memorable was a Chex Cereal freebie. Though only an example of my personal experience, I think my anecdote nicely illustrates how spreadable Chex Quest is as a piece of media, having transcended the boundaries of simple advertising.

[1] http://www.pcgamer.com/gamings-best-cereal-based-shooter/#article-comments

[2] https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/07/the-chex-quest-remaster-nobody-was-asking-for-is-finally-coming/

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