Still think video games will rot your brain?
Quite the opposite, say HP and Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai in a colorful, high-tech campaign for the Chinese market that celebrates PC gaming—and the HP Omen gaming computer specifically—as an activity that's not just fun but good for your brain.
W+K offers a few data points as an introduction: Laparoscopic surgeons who are also gamers perform 37 percent fewer errors; gamers can improve memory by 12 percent when gaming 30 minutes every day for two weeks; and action video game players respond approximately 12 percent faster than non-gamer.
Such research helps refute the common belief in China that gaming is a waste of time. And it informs W+K's new campaign, which is themed "Achieve Gamefulness."
The campaign kicked off with an event at ChinaJoy, the annual digital entertainment expo, where HP (working with North Kingdom) presented The Gamewaves Scanner, which monitored gamers' brains as they played—and gave a visual representation of how gaming improves skills like teamwork, focus, mental stamina, responsiveness, memory, and even creativity.
Here's some footage from that event:
"Gaming moves us in amazing ways. So we created an experience at ChinaJoy that celebrates what gaming truly is—a wild and colorful party in your brain with real-world benefits," says Ian Toombs, executive creative director at W+K Shanghai.
Following ChinaJoy, W+K unleashed three 30-second commercials set at the futuristic "Gamer Training Institute," where gamers study under the guidance of "The Masters," a pair of identical twins whose glowing brains have reached the highest levels of enlightenment.
British directors The Sacred Egg and Hamlet Productions shot the spots.
"This job was an interesting mix of technical challenges. It really had it all: a massive set build, heavy CGI, stunts—a 56 man inverted human tower—60 lights choreographed to music, and celebrity gamers," says Alexander Mavor, one-half of directing duo The Sacred Egg. "We always try to achieve an aesthetic that is unique to each project. This in particular was an amazing opportunity to create a brand universe with its own look, tone, characters and rules. Something that is entirely unique and ownable for Omen and which gamers want to be a part of."
Gaming in general has come a long way from the days of PlayStation "Double Life" and the idea that gamers are misfits. Still, a certain stigma lingers around the effects of gaming on the brain. And while the data in favor of gaming are surely selectively chosen—other research says gaming can fuel addictive tendencies—it's nice to see a campaign crafted around category perception and not just a product pitch.
"In a fast-growing society like China, gaming is seen as a pause from everyday progress. Revealing the benefits of gaming was essential to really celebrate gaming for what it is," says Renee Zhang, head of planning at W+K Shanghai.
"We want to empower gamers to feel proud of who they are and show what their potential can be by putting the magic of their brains on display," adds creative director Tree Chan.