Thursday, November 1, 2012

Random News Generator- Liechtenstein

When I load up Google News for the country the RNG has selected, I often go in with some measure of expectations depending on the country. When writing on China, for example, I've by now almost expected to end up talking about some form or other of political repression. Africa has been most likely to bring stories of either their various intractable problems or their efforts to emerge from under them. Scandinavia is likely to feature a story on some progressive, out-of-the-box idea, with Japan just plain being out-of-the-box. Small island nations will probably see me grousing about how nothing is freaking happening there.

But no matter what the country, I do not expect to see the entire nation being taken over for advertising purposes. I know, I know. It only seemed like Taylor Swift did this in the United States last week. You see albums sold as an upsell with your pizza, you tend to think things. But Swift did not drape the Statue of Liberty in a blonde wig or give the Space Needle a coat of red paint or anything.

Then there's Liechtenstein. Allegedly, at least.

The tiny little nation, flanked by Austria on one side and Switzerland on the other, reportedly found itself transformed into a giant advertisement for Halo 4 yesterday. The headquarters for the launch was the city of Balzers, where the signature feature of the town and one of the signatures of the entire nation, Gutenberg Castle, was converted into a military fort and hosted a LAN party. Balzers Quarry saw a grand entrance from main character Master Chief, and a mock battle was staged on a local farm.

A pretty audacious ad blitz, to be sure. However, whether they actually took over the entire nation for this purpose seems a little suspect. All the locations mentioned in the stories and the picture bylines are in or near Balzers, which sits on the southern border with Switzerland (the southern border itself was also used). One would think that Liechtenstein's capital, Vaduz, would have been used in some way, to say nothing of the northern reaches of the country, but nothing was reported outside Balzers. At least, nothing outside of The Sun, which from their writeup seems to have actually confused Balzers for Vaduz. I think what happened here, without being able to hop the next plane to Europe, is that Liechteinstein is so small that developer Bungie figured nobody would notice if they just called Balzers 'Liechtenstein'. And nobody did. The reporting media just took the free trip to Liechtenstein, went 'ZOMG MASTER CHIEF IN A REAL-LIFE WARTHOG AND EXPLOSIONS AND AWESOME' and swallowed the whole thing at face value.

Well, there's me, anyway, but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be stopping anyone from buying Halo 4.

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