5 brands pushing the envelope in gaming

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The impact of gaming

Video game culture has evolved and now impacts politics, television, music, and Hollywood more than ever before. The power of the mainstream games market was recently on display on November 17, 2011 when Activision launched its latest entry in the "Call of Duty" series, "Modern Warfare 3." The release quickly set new sales records with 6.5 million copies sold on launch day and raked in $775 million in sales in just five days.

This figure has beaten theatrical box office, book, and video game sales records for five-day worldwide sell-through in dollars.  Once thought to be more of a niche market, gaming has become a part of everyday life with new releases rivaling the biggest summer blockbusters in terms of revenue.

In 2011, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) reported that the average age for a gamer was now 37 years old. This is attributed to more individuals from the first console days adopting the current systems. The ESA also reported that the gender distribution of console gamers shows 58 percent of gamers as male and 42 percent female.

Those numbers flip when discussing casual and social gaming, but equilibrium is close when it comes to reaching both segments. Another telling statistic from the ESA is that 71 percent of people age six to forty-nine in the U.S. played video games, with 55 percent of gamers playing on their phones or mobile devices.

With such reach and engagement potential, brands have capitalized on this cultural shift in many ways. Brands have historically executed many types of gaming programs. Above the line tactics -- such as the original 1996 cult classic Chex Quest (based on the Doom engine) -- was available as a free CD-ROM on pack to consumers have been a staple of gaming programs.

Below the line tactics such as Adidas billboard displayed in the foreground of the multi-console1994 FIFA International Soccer are now standard in many of today's sports simulations as are product placements.

Brands have also attempted to capitalize on through the line advergaming such as the recent "Lost Experience" (Based on the show "Lost") with the likes of Jeep, Sprite,, and Verizon integrating traditional and digital programs into the expansive gameplay with the goal of creating immersive digital experiences and campaign extensions brought to you by the brand.

Brands have found innovative ways through the years to create compelling gaming related experiences. Below are five brands that are leveraging different facets of advergaming, social gaming, branded games, and total immersion to reach new audience segments and reward brand enthusiasts.