Back in the noughties, video game publishers Acclaim were masters of the scandalous PR stunt. For Shadow Man 2, they offered to pay funeral costs to put ads on tombstones. They offered to pay speeding fines on Burnout 2’s launch day. They wanted bus shelter posters leaking fake blood. They claimed they had pigeons spraypainted with Virtua Tennis 2 logos to fly around Wimbledon. In a bit of pointless investigative journalism of the very best kind, Connor Makar on VG247 has probed their 2002 stunt of promoting Turok 4 by offering £500 if you legally changed your name to ‘Turok’. Go read it, yeah?
Acclaim, for the benefit of younger readers, basically did Devolver Digital’s whole ‘blood and scandal’ thing but for real. Devolver wish they’d thought of BMX XXX, a topless BMX stunt game, [Update: Devolver state on Twitter that they do not wish this, bless their hearts] or paying people $10,000 to name their baby Turok. Acclaim tried to claim newspaper headlines with shocking, gross, and craven marketing stunts, and they often succeeded.
You have to remember, young’uns, that this was the millennium-straddling period which historians and academics have come to call ‘the Attitude Era’.
The particular stunt Makar focused on was one of several around the debut of Turok: Evolution in 2002. As well as offering money for naming American babies Turok, they helpfully providing a tent with a TV and generator to a man queuing outside the Electronics Boutique on Oxford Street for 20 days, and offered UK folks £500, an Xbox, and every Turok game for changing their own names to Turok by deed poll for one year. Makar went looking for the five people who took the cash to become Turok, dinosaur hunter, and what he found was… honestly not at all surprisingly, really.
It is a good read. I’m well into people putting the legwork into chasing down 18-year-old nonsense. Go, enjoy.