Don Moore

The Cognitive Dissonance of Old School Video Game Covers

In Humor, Video Games on May 13, 2011 at 2:08 PM

There is nothing more infuriating that buying a product based on advertising, only to realize that the actual product bears not even a passing resemblance to what was advertised. Fast food, movies- it always ends in the same bitter, bitter disappointment.

Perhaps no one perfected the art of the bait and switch better than old school video game boxcover artists. The picture at the top of this post is the cover of the first Megaman.  Besides looking like it was drawn by a third grade (Depth perception? What’s that?) It looks nothing like the actual game. For starters, Megaman isn’t actually a man, as the name and cover image suggests. He’s a boy. He also doesn’t carry a handgun. He has a hand that’s a gun, but it most certainly is not a handgun.

What does the real Megaman looks like?

Here’s where cognitive dissonance comes in. Cognitive dissonance is the psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously. Buying Megaman expecting some Dali-like surrelaism, and getting 8 bit abstract expressionism instead is textbook cognitive dissonance.
Another example:

That is the cover to this:

I bet you just looked back up at the cover image just now. See? Cognitive dissonance. It’s your mind telling you “Wait, what is this, I don’t even…” Just be glad that we now live in a time where actual video game screen caps are cool enough to be cover art.

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