Monday, February 12, 2007

Essay 1697

From The New York Post…




A new video game due out next month lets players pretend to be rap stars and dress like them, too.

The latest fashions from Phat Farm, Adidas, Rocawear and other brands will get top billing in “Def Jam: Icon,” a game jointly produced by Def Jam Interactive and Electronic Arts, in which players try to get their foot in the door of the music business.

Players can model characters after themselves, or after real rap stars such as Method Man, Jim Jones and T.I. They acquire points depending on how tight they become with virtual mogul Curtis Carver. The more successful they are, the more money they have to buy clothes.

Players can try on Sean John jeans or Adidas T-shirts in virtual stores before purchasing the items (in the game, not the real world).

In an attempt to make the game as authentic as possible, the virtual products are modeled on real-life merchandise that will be sold in stores this fall. Even pricing is similar; $78 for a Sean John hoodie, for instance. The game even incorporates something called “cloth physics,” which means the virtual clothing will ripple and move when a character walks.

“We wanted to create as authentic an experience as possible,” said Lauren Wirtzer, the vice president of Marketing for Def Jam Enterprises.

While not entirely new, brands are increasingly popping up in video games, either through product placements, or in the case of Def Jam: Icon, licensing deals that allow the use of product images.

The next generation Xbox from Microsoft and PlayStation 3 from Sony are taking the concept a step further by allowing players to plug into the Internet and make actual purchases.

In the case of Def Jam: Icon sometimes the rap stars who are featured in the game dictated what brands they would wear. The rapper T.I., for instance, insisted that his virtual self wear a specific style of Michael Jordan sneakers with a red sole.

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