Just when you thought that US election campaign advertising couldn’t go any further. We’ve borne witness to one of the most expensive presidential campaigns in history, with millions being spent on all ad channels available. Now there are reports that the Obama’08 campaign has purchased ad space in online video games.

The presidential nominee has bought spots in 18 of Microsoft’s Xbox Live games services, meaning that gamers will see billboards that encourage people to enrol online and references to the VoteForChange.com website.

Van Baker, an analyst from Californian technology market research firm Gartner Inc., believes it’s a great avenue for a group that’s been notoriously hard to reach.

“The 18-to-34-year-old male is the mainstream demographic for the hardcore video gamer,” says Baker. “They’re hard to get to because they don’t watch much TV and they don’t read a lot, so it’s a good venue to get that segment.”

But this isn’t the first time governments have infiltrated video games to get through to gamers. British Intelligence was criticised for job ads that appeared on billboards and bustops in Counter Strike-style games that encouraged people to join the intelligence community.

Politics in Australia saw a rise in online and digital channels being used during the 2007 elections from both Labor and the Liberals, but whether or not future campaigns will go as far as those in the US remain to be seen.

It seems unlikely that we’ll see K-Rudd’s face in the next installment of Grand Theft Auto any time soon…