Watchdog Group Finds Dairy Queen Game “Egregious”

Stopping by your local Dairy Queen over the holiday weekend? If so, here’s something to consider:

Ice cream-centric PC game DQ Tycoon has come in for some freezer burn, courtesy of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

The Boston-based CCFC turned its attention to DQ Tycoon as part of its ongoing campaign to lobby Scholastic, Inc. to drop non-books items such as toys, make-up and video games from its school flyers. In a press release issued earlier this week, CCFC termed the game "egregious":

CCFC plans to continue to track Scholastic Book club offerings. One of the more egregious recent findings was the Dairy Queen video game, DQ Tycoon, which appears in Scholastic’s June 2009 Arrow flyer.

The Orlando Sentinel’s education blog picked up on the theme:

Some might suggest that  DQ Tycoon isn’t in the same league with a Newbery Medal winner for children’s literature, such as Joseph Krumgold’s And Now Miguel, my personal favorite.  But it apparently gets equal of better billing in the book club fliers. That coming of age book about a Hispanic boy in New Mexico, which won the Newbery in 1954, has been "thinker" literature for kids for 55 years. Will DQ Tycoon meet that test??

While it’s true that DQ Tycoon is probably not going to change anyone’s life, GamePolitics just had to ask: What’s so bad about a game based on ice cream? CCFC spokesman Josh Golin responded.

CCFC: The game is egregious because it’s an ad for Dairy Queen masquerading as a video game and ads for Dairy Queen have no place in schools. It is particularly galling that Scholastic is enlisting teachers as a sales force for the game because, at a time of heightened concerns about childhood obesity, many schools are limiting the types of foods that can be sold and marketed on their premises.  I think it’s safe to say that without Scholastic, DQ would be unable to promote Blizzards (as many as 1,200 calories) in elementary schools.

GP: In my experience the "tycoon" game genre generally would seem to have at least some educational value, forcing players to plan, strategize, allocate resources, etc. Not exactly Manhunt 2. I noticed that the game next to DQ Tycoon in the ad is "1701," which I’ve played and which also brings a lot of historical flavor as well as the previously mentioned elements to the mix.

CCFC: I don’t dispute for a second that some video games can have educational value. Our concerns are a) the highly commercialized nature of so many of Scholastic’s offerings  (not just the games) and b) the fact that Scholastic sells so many things that are not books in its "book clubs".

The fact of the matter is that books clearly play a special role in schools which is why Scholastic is allowed into classrooms and given the unique opportunity to sell directly to students.  Scholastic is exploiting that access by selling so many things that aren’t books.  I’m sure Game Stop or Toys R’ Us would love to have teachers hand out circulars for them every month.

GP: So, why does CCFC hate ice cream? Just kidding…

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  1. nekusagi says:


    That game kicked ass. Hard.

    So many hours of my life as a 9 year old spent blowing up flemoids… teleportation my ass.

  2. nekusagi says:

    oh man memories. I remember getting a How to Draw Pokemon book from a Scholastic circular in middle school… and a Harry Potter movie poster book too, as well as some "junior novelizations", Star Wars books, and spy gear. Good times.

    To be fair, all of that stuff is educational to some extent- the Pokemon book taught me the basics of drawing, the Harry Potter posters ARE related to one of Scholastic’s biggest money makers of the last decade, of course they’re going to sell that, the junior novelizations and Star Wars books are the only way you’ll get some kids to read, and the spy gear/magic kits are pretty imaginative in a way, and get kids away from the computer/video games… (how I loved the magic kits I ordered.)


    but I do agree that the Dairy Queen game IS pushing it. Nothing is stopping Scholastic from selling a tycoon game without the commercial tie-in, like Zoo or Rollercoaster Tycoon. Not to mention those are far superior in terms of gameplay (I’d imagine).

  3. Saxy says:

    Wait, they still sell the "How To Draw Pokemon" Stuff?

    That’s it, screw my high school education, I’m demoting myself.

    Multiplication tables, here I come!

  4. Saxy says:

    We forget, in most cases, parents are the ones buying this stuff, not the kids. And we all know parents ALWAYS make accurate, healthy decisions about what they expose their kids to.

  5. GoodRobotUs says:

    Well, in all fairness, I’d rather see kids using their imagination that modelling up pre-designated kits, but then, the whole idea of these sets isn’t to just use those individual sets, but to use standard Lego to create most stuff, and just ‘theme’ it with the Batman/Spaceman/Whatever.

    I used to build awesome spaceships with nothing but the standard Lego stuff, always felt that was more rewarding in the long run.

  6. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    Yeah, Box Tops for education? Anyone? Did I hear them bitch about that? Or the Star Wars, Hanna Montana and Disney tie in sticker book crap that Austin mentioned? No?


  7. Austin_Lewis says:

    You’re right, you can just buy hundreds of dollars in toys, dvds, video games, etc., for all of them. 

  8. Austin_Lewis says:

    You’re right, things like the Bionicle Duo don’t seem like a blatant advertisement for LEGO BIONICLE brand toys at all.  Nope.

  9. Krono says:

    I’d imagine they singled out the DQ game because rather than "advertising" other media or toys like the examples you just listed, it advertised a restaurant chain.


  10. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Umm…its advertisement in the form of a game….nothing new move along….


    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..

  11. silversnowfox says:


    "Why do you continue to do this!  Why do you continue to raid a site, after it’s been proven that the person was accidently banned, and was almost immediatly reinstated!"
    "….. for the lulz.  That is all."

  12. Vake Xeacons says:

     Fun Fact: "Egregious"

    e*gre*gious |i’gre’jes|


    1. outstandingly bad; shocking: "egregious abuses of copyright."

    2. (archaic) remarkably good.

    Origin: mid 16th cent: from Latin ‘illustrious,’ literally "standing out from the flock,’ 

    The derogatory sense (later 16th cent) probably arose as an ironical use.

  13. Austin_Lewis says:

    Alright, so I’m actually looking at the flyer right now, and here’s what I’m seeing that seems in the same vein as DQ’s Game:
    Star Wars Mad Lib

    Disney’s UP Junior Novelization

    Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Junior Novelization

    Marvel Villains poster book

    Star Wars; the rise and fall of Darth Vader

    Harry Potter Half-Blood prince Movie Poster Book

    Radio Disney CD Duo (2 CDs only 20 Dollars!  What a way to make sure your car is always stocked with shit music!)

    It’s Happy Bunny Pack (2 poster books, a key chain, and 2 bracelets.

    Doggie Divas Origami (ok, not so much commericialism, but what the fuck?)

    How to Draw Pokemon Pack

    Spongebob set (looks like 2 48 page books and a figure)

    Bionicle Duo (Bionicle Encylopedia and Bionicle Web of Shadows)

    SpyGear Adventures: The Massively Multiplayer Mystery (Spy-gear is a toy brand, basically, of low grade ‘hi-tech’ spy gear)



    And that’s my list.  So really, why single out the DQ game?  There’s plenty of books pushing consumerism RIGHT HERE.

  14. Austin_Lewis says:

    So, its cool for Scholastic to sell Hannah Montanna books, Power ranger books, spongebob crap (books, coloring books, etc.), but when Dairy Queen hops in there, they’re the devil coming to force children to buy DQ all the time?  Yeah.  Sure. 

    Seriously, Scholastic is nothing BUT commercialism.

    As for the comment that some games can be educational, I don’t think they mean it.  Sound like hollow words that they’ll go back on to me.  SOME games CAN be educational probably means games could be educational, but they aren’t right now, except for reader rabbit teaches typing and whatnot, which barely counts as a game at all.

    Except for number muncher.  Loved me some number muncher.  And Oregon Trail.

  15. wii_charles says:

    No, a hate group is not a group with a particular political agenda they are pushing.  By that standard, pretty much everything is a hate group, including your local PTA.  The Ku Klux Klan is a hate group; are you really equating burning crosses on people’s lawns with lobbying against product placement in educational games? 

    I support them.  When I was a kid I wasn’t buying books called "Ralph and the Seven Magical Snickers Bars.  This stealth advertising should be discouraged.


    Charles Herold 

    Wii Guide

  16. Vake Xeacons says:

    I mean, if DQ were some adult bar, or DQ Tycoon were M-rated, I’d say,

    "Fine, don’t expose children to that." 

    But were talking about a family oriented restaurant. One of the healthier fast food places, I might add. There’s nothing inappropriate about advertising an E-rated game, based on a family establishment in an educational magazine.

  17. DarkSaber says:

    There’s nothing dishonorable about advertising? Really?


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  18. Vake Xeacons says:

     Who’s "abusing"? Scholastic has to fund themselves somehow. It’s no different than a Cheerios ad in Highlights. 

    There’s nothing dishonorable about advertisement. "Tycoon" games are all about capitalism anyway. Kids are going to have to learn about money sooner or later. The only problem here seems to be DQ’s involvement. What this is teaching kids is that advertising is an important part of running a business (which will also be, no doubt, part of the game). 

  19. DarkSaber says:

    Imaginary? So they IMAGINED that Scholastic is abusing their favoured position in schools? Again.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  20. Father Time says:

    "They are basically a hate anti-free-speech group."

    That is not a label you should be throwing around lightly.

    Complaining about a game is not the same as trying to get it banned. They get to complain about the game all they want.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  21. TaoJeannes says:

    Little gets my back up quicker than when people throw around the word "hate".CCFC is not a hate group, for crying out loud.

    CCFC is right on this. Scholastic gets special access to kids because they’re supposedly providing an education service. Shilling a DQ product is an abuse of that special access. Flat out. I don’t care if it’s educational – which it isn’t – or not.

  22. DarkSaber says:

    Several people on these forums it seems.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  23. GoliathWon says:

    Huh guys this is an advergame being sold in schools. This isn’t just a game, this is advertisement in the form of a game. Who thought this was ok to sell in elementary schools?

  24. hellfire7885 says:

    And anything fun about book fairs is being caught i nthe crossfire. THe non-book items draw people to it.

  25. Neeneko says:

    I think the poster was referring to the organization’s general mission, which goes well beyond removal of such material from schools.   Thier basic mission is ‘children should not be exposed to consumerism’.

  26. JustChris says:

    Their complaint is about the blatant corporate tie-ins in commercial products, not the products themselves. And ones that serve little educational value.

  27. beemoh says:

    And there was me under the impression that books were commercial products. But aparrently not. Who knew?


  28. A-wel Cruiz says:

    Suddenly, I have a hankering for a Peanut Buster Parfeit.


    *Jack Thompson loves it when people argue with him. He whacks to it!*

  29. Alex says:

    I understand that complaint, but my personal problem is with this:

    Our concerns are… b) the fact that Scholastic sells so many things that are not books in its "book clubs".

    Okay, so there are some non-book items. So what? It’s hard enough to get kids interested in reading as it is, why NOT have a few non-book items mixed in? Then everyone will at least rifle through the leaflet to see what’s in it, and they might stumble across a book that actually looks interesting even though they’ve never been that interested in reading before.

    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  30. Coach says:

    I have to agree with the CFCC on this one.  They aren’t complaining about games.  In fact, they agreed that they can be as educational as a book.  If this game was not about a specific company, from the sound of their argument, they wouldn’t have a problem with it.  "Commercial Free Childhood" is what this group is about.  I see logic in their complaint.  Notice they aren’t complaining about games in general or strategy games in particular.  

    Scholastic are using their unique access to children to push a specific company and I agree that doesn’t belong in schools.  Were it simply "Monopoly", they probably wouldn’t have a complaint.  Because the game also functions as a commercial for DQ however, this certainly falls within the CFCCs stated purpose.  Let’s not knee-jerk everytime someone complains about something involving a game.  In this case it isn’t the game they have a problem with, it is the fact it deals with a specific company in a place where that type of marketing should not be.       

  31. lumi says:

    This is awful hyperbole.  Removing an advergame from elementary schools isn’t even close to the same league as "no advertising".

  32. black manta says:

    Yet more nonsense from the CCFC

    Has it ever occurred to anyone in that backwards-thinking organization that if no one advertised anything, no one would be aware of the existence of their products, and thus no one would buy them?  The economy would screech to a halt as no one would buy goods or services.  While I admit some advertising can be obstrusive at times, it’s necessary to generate awareness.  Advertising is an integral part of any free-market economy.  I sometimes wonder if the CCFC would be happy if we went Communist or something. 

  33. nightwng2000 says:

    They wouldn’t have been pleased with my Office Occupations class when I was in high school back in the ’80s then.

    The class was a combination typing (that’s on a -typewriter-, not a computer) and a business course.

    Part of the course involved taking some simulator packs containing various documents and exercises to be performed as if you were actually working in a particular business.  My favorite was working in a legal office and typing up legal documents.  But one of the other packs was working in an ice cream shop (albeit a fictional ice cream shop).  In that particular pack, you performed a great many bookkeeping tasks.  There was another one, but I don’t remember what it was.

    I wish I could find more of those simulator packs.  I LOVED the legal office one.

    I don’t even know who made them.


    NW2K Software

    Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

  34. Neeneko says:

     I normally do not agree with CFCC, and I know Scholastic Book Club has a long history of this practice so it is nothing new… but I think in this case I have to side with CFCC.    Cash strapped schools have increasingly been used as marketing vectors for various companies and I’m not to happy about that.

    Similar to not feeling right about schools pushing religion due to being an authority figure, I would really prefer that advertising for commercial products NOT be distributed through school related material.

    Plus, I gotta give them credit for both agreeing that some games can have educational value and that their complaint is with Scholastic’s general practice, not just the games.

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