Gamer Who Discovered Obama XBL Ads is Just an Average Guy

Since GamePolitics broke the news about Barack Obama’s Xbox Live ads last weeks, they have become an international media sensation.

But, GP didn’t actually find the ads; we were just first to report on them. Credit for the actual discovery goes to "Jeff", a 39-year-old gamer who lives in one of the 10 battleground states in which the Obama ads are running. He’d prefer that we not say exactly which state, for privacy reasons.

Married with a family, Jeff works in a machine shop and of this he told GP, "It’s far more interesting than anyone will give credit, and more honest than most professions."

But life has not been all fun and games for Jeff. A couple of years back, he was involved in a high speed, head-on crash caused by a drunk driver, suffering horrendous injuries. Afterward, he spent nearly three months in a wheel chair and endured several surgeries. Despite it all, Jeff has managed to maintain his sense of humor:

I’ve had so much hardware installed and removed that I was feeling like a catch-all bin at Home Depot…

While recuperating and doing battle with insurance companies, Jeff kept himself busy by writing, drawing – and gaming:

I’ve always been something of a sideline gamer, dating back to the Atari 2600… but spending 14 hours a day watching Discovery Channel while waiting for my bones to knit together bored the crap out of me so I convinced my wife that we needed an XBox to supplement the PS2.  It allowed me to connect directly with other members of the Rooster Teeth community who had helped me stay sane through everything.

It’s ironic that Jeff’s now-famous pictures of the Obama ads were very much of a random occurrence:

The funny thing is that I had already played through 97% of the game months ago and it was collecting dust on the shelf.  I had only tossed it in [the Xbox 360] because we just bought the new TV and one of my daughter’s friends wanted to see the motorcycles in action.  We’d been buzzing around the city in various vehicles at high speed for about half an hour before I happened to crash right in front of one of the billboards. Burnout’s in-game camera induces vertigo if you try to manipulate it so you normally have to get a car airborne before you can actually read any of the signs close up.  It was a genuine "WTF?" moment.

Jeff snapped the pictures directly from his TV screen (left) using an Olympus 550UZ camera. He never imagined that they’d go very far:

The only reason I took the photos to begin with was to share them with my friends. [My friend] Claude asked if he could show it to a few people to get confirmation, because he was rightfully skeptical too. I agreed and now this thing is just taking on a life of its own…

I just saw [the Obama ads] on a blurb on MSNBC. That’s crazy. I’m actually a little glad they aren’t mentioning my gamertag anymore, though part of me is a bit pissed that they aren’t giving [GamePolitics] proper credit for breaking the story.


The truly ironic part of this entire ride is that I find myself being the catalyst for Obama’s media exposure.  As you said, I was the only one to say anything about it and now it’s being picked up across the web – far outside the original 10 states that the ads were planned for.  That’s exposure that exceeds the original investment of his campaign by an order of magnitude.  For that matter EA must be clapping their hands at the prospects of increased revenue to their checking accounts.  As they say, "you can’t buy this kind of advertising…"


Granted, anyone could have done the same thing, but this time it happened to be me.  That’s an odd feeling that I’m still trying to get used to. 

Ironically, Jeff is neither an Obama or McCain supporter. He’s just an average guy who games.

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  1. 0
    Father Time says:

    Your expectations are too high. Has tried but never got into pot? Need I remind you of Bush’s old drug offences.

    Although it seems contradictory that you want a candidate who hasn’t been in jail but admits to breaking the law (that is unless they go to a place where it’s legal). Knows three other languages besides English? Why? I’m sure it’s not that hard to get translators for the president.


    "What for you bury me in the cold cold ground?" – Tasmanian devil

  2. 0
    DeepThorn says:

    Agreed…  That is why I looked at Palin and Biden, and to be honest, Palin scares the living poop deck out of me, while Biden is just the typically dirty politicians just like McCain and Obama.

    The catholic dinner last night was funny as hell.  Obama and McCain cracking jokes was a lot of fun.  I think they can both be nice guys, but I don’t trust either of them.  I honestly trust them running the country as much as I would trust Pauly Shore… 

    If I got to straight up choose the president, I would require no high ranking political background, no bad mouthing evolution or another religion, never had money issues or been in jail even for a simple offence, has tried but never got into pot, knows at least 4 languages including english and stayed in at least 3 other countries longer than 2 weeks, has expressed the ability to keep calm in extreme conditions, prove they can see both sides of evolution/creation abortion same sex marriages and other topics while keeping a seperation of church and state when making judgements, and in good enough of health to be able to live through at least 2 terms.

  3. 0
    Father Time says:

    Curious GP what would you consider the top 5 most significant gaming/politics stories of all time?


    "What for you bury me in the cold cold ground?" – Tasmanian devil

  4. 0
    Erasmus Darwin says:

    Top 5?  Really?  You’re reading way too much into this.  It’s just the people handling his campaign acting like any other advertising firm and going after every possible venue.  The only time Obama’s ever even mentioned video games has been as short-hand for a time-wasting activity when talking about how kids should be engaging in more educational pursuits.  The ads mean NOTHING in terms of Obama’s attitude toward games or his stance on gaming legislation.

    As for this specific article, it really doesn’t say anything new about gaming and politics, as you’ve already done a more than adequate job of covering Obama having political ads in a video game.  When the most salient points of the larger story can be covered in just a sentence or two ("Obama has political ads on select EA XBL games in battleground states."), it’s really a stretch to try and get this much mileage out of it.

  5. 0
    kagirinai says:

    Well, whatever. I’m not upset about it or anything, mostly perplexed. I was just reacting to the sensation when I read the article this morning — a sort of ‘What was the point of that?’ sensation. Not knocking you for doing it.

  6. 0
    Orange Soda says:

    Why? I see nothing wrong with someone being undecided on an issue that others may be extremely passionate about. The very passionate may try to deny it, but both sides tend to have legitemate points that they’re arguing from.

    Sorry to jump on you like that, but it irks me when people act like being undecided on an issue is bad.

  7. 0
    Erasmus Darwin says:

    Read my post again.  I never said Obama advertising in a video game wasn’t a big deal.  I never disagreed with GP’s decision to run the game advertising angle in the first place, nor did I complain about the earlier articles.

    There’s nothing significant in this article that I couldn’t have picked up from all the previous articles.  For example, you claim that this article proves that "People will notice campaign ads in games," but we’ve already got the SNL reaction article to show that.  To claim you couldn’t have picked that up from the other articles is disingenuous at best.

    There’s all of 2 things I learned from this article that I didn’t already know: The guy who sent in the Obama ad picture is undecided, and he used an Olympus camera.  Neither one of these things is particularly amazing.

  8. 0
    DeepThorn says:

    5.) This story has been overplayed to some degree, even though it is a great story, unless there is something break through…  I am with Darwin…  How many articles is it on this specific thing?  3 or 4?

    I get the point, we need to vote, we need to educate ourselves about the people running, but I think every American here that is ever going to vote and is of age to vote has gotten the point and are voting most likely.

  9. 0
    gamepolitics says:

    GP’s history has always been to give wall-to-wall coverage on key stories… stuff you won’t find anywhere else.

    This is one of the top five most significant gaming/politics stories of all time, I would say.

    But the beauty part is, you don’t have to read the stories that don’t interest you…

  10. 0
    Awol says:

    GP is a news site, yes it is a blog but its much more. Being what it is just because you don’t like a story or you think its been over done doesn’t mean everyone thinks like you do. Great you don’t want to see more of this type of article so next time don’t read it. I don’t expect Dennis to caters to my interests on GP and I don’t expect him to cater to anyone elses but his own. If I didn’t like it I wouldn’t read it and I certainly wouldn’t waste my time commenting in an article that I didn’t like it.



  11. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    The first in all history that a presidential campaign advertised in video games, and you think it is not a big deal?

    Wow. I wish my head were that much in the clouds.

    This is a cool story. I like finding out that it was not some media outfit that found the ads. I liked finding out that it was not the Obama campaign sending out press releases that alerted everyone. I am glad to find out that it was not the McCain campaign mudslinging about it that alerted everyone.

    This article shows several things. 1) People will notice campaign ads in games. 2) People will tell each other about those ads. 3) With the current state of communication technology, interesting stories like this spread like wild fire. 4) Not everyone who plays games is a kid.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
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    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
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  12. 0
    Erasmus Darwin says:

    In other news, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

    Seriously, just how much mileage is GP trying to get out of the Obama game ads story?  This is getting ridiculous.  At this point, I’m urging GP readers to vote McCain just so that 4 years down the road, we won’t have a dozen GP updates about how Obama’s running reelection ads in video games.

  13. 0
    kagirinai says:

    Sorry… this is news, somehow?

    I mean, yeah, it’s neat that people who aren’t in these battleground states get to hear about this, and it’s neat the politicians are exploiting new media for their campaigns (for better or worse), but… this guy just snapped a picture.

  14. 0
    eats_shoots_leaves says:

     Except that GP, which is ultimately a blog, was actually *second* to report on it, and despite all the tributing above, RvB was first.

    Credit where credit’s due.

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