U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama is taking his campaign where no politician is believed to have gone before — into video games.
Electronic Arts, the world's biggest video game publisher, confirmed Monday that Obama had taken out an ad in its new Xbox 360 racing game, Burnout Paradise.
"I can confirm that the Obama campaign has paid for in-game advertising in Burnout," Holly Rockwood, director of corporate communications at EA, told Wagner James Au, a blogger at technology website GigaOm. "Like most television, radio and print outlets, we accept advertising from credible political candidates. Like political spots on the television networks, these ads do not reflect the political policies of EA or the opinions of its development teams."
The ad is seen as a roadside billboard that players race past. The billboard features a picture of Obama and says, "Early voting has begun," and also points players to the candidate's website at voteforchange.com.
Despite the ad placement, the Democratic presidential candidate has made some disparaging comments about video games during his campaign. In a speech in February, Obama equated playing video games with underachieving.
"I know how hard it will be to alleviate poverty that has built up over centuries, how hard it will be to fix schools, because changing our schools will require not just money, but a change in attitudes," he told supporters in Wisconsin. "We're going to have to parent better, and turn off the television set, and put the video games away, and instill a sense of excellence in our children, and that's going to take some time."
Obama has, however, won points with technology-savvy voters. In January, before either U.S. party had settled on its official presidential nominee, popular technology blog TechCrunch named Obama its candidate of choice based on his knowledge of and position on digital issues such as net neutrality, cellphone spectrum and identity theft.
The website also picked John McCain, who ended up winning the Republican presidential nomination, as that party's most tech-savvy candidate. McCain, however, has admitted he doesn't know how to use a computer.
"Neither, I am an illiterate that has to rely on my wife for all of the assistance that I can get," he told Yahoo News earlier this year when asked if he used either an Apple Macintosh or a PC.