Welcome to the first edition of Mega Cat Marketing! In this series, I will focus exclusively on how brands can use video games and video game communities in their marketing. In this episode, we talk at a high-level about how to think about using Twitch influencers and where to start.
Welcome to the first edition of Mega Cat Marketing! In this series, I will focus exclusively on how brands can use video games and video game communities in ...
Early in its rise to iconic brand status, Apple nailed a seemingly inconsequential detail: packaging. For a long time, businesses in general focused on the front end of a business relationship: Drive awareness for your product, convince people to buy that product, and then get that product in the consumer’s hands. Today—because of the work of brands like Apple—marketers and business owners realize that the full cycle of the relationship matters. Painstaking attention to the most minute details of things like onboarding and, yes, packaging.
To give you an idea of how much attention, research, and testing goes into the box for a product, the book Inside Apple recounts the story of how a designer spent months testing the size and colors of pull-tabs for the iPod box, even going as far as to design the box itself in such a way that “the tabs were placed so that when Apple’s factory packed multiple boxes for shipping to retail stores, there was a natural negative space between the boxes that protected and preserved the tab.”
Details that small matter.
I was raised by books, superhero cartoons, and video games. The Legend of Zelda taught me about problem solving. Final Fantasy 6 taught me about strategy. Red Alert taught me about the importance of resources. Ultima Online taught me about macroeconomics. And Mario taught me that the rewards we seek are rarely right around in the corner in the first place we look.
The learning potential for video games goes deeper than what can be gained from playing them. Building video games can be an educational experience in itself. In fact, I am going to bet that in the next 10 years we will see game development incorporated into school curriculums at all levels. The opportunity is simply too big to ignore.
This post contains spoilers for Fallout: New Vegas and the Last of Us.
The interactivity of video games sets the stage for them to have a deep psychological impact. Typically, this potential is discussed in negative terms. We talk about how games can become an addiction or how some titles glorify violence. As much as the industry dislikes this criticism, we have to admit that at some level it’s fair.
On the same token, however, video games need to be recognized for their ability to foster deeply emotional experiences and in some cases to inspire self-reflection. Unlike other forms of media—books, film, art—the active role of the player adds a compelling dynamic. You aren’t just watching a story playout. You are responsible for moving it forward. You participate. You become a character and feel what he or she feels.
This emotional potential has a number of implications. Before we dig into them, let’s explore a few examples of what I mean.
In the Mojave
Fallout: New Vegas drops the player into a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas wasteland. The game’s tone has it meandering from dark humor to outright darkness. Along the way, you have the option to travel with companions. Having a non-player character at your side makes combat a bit easier and helps you carry more loot. Of these companions, my favorite is Boone.
Boone is a grizzled sniper, a stereotypical brooding loner. At first, his character seems pretty flat. His wife died in the wasteland and he has quite a chip on his shoulder about it. As you continue to travel together, he shares more tidbits of his story. He tells you that a gang that calls itself The Legion is responsible for his wife’s death and that he suspects somebody he trusted betrayed him, ultimately triggering the kidnapping that lead to her demise.
“I want to design video games.”
As soon as a child discovers a love for video games, the realization that this could be a career follows soon after. Like most kids that were raised by Nintendo and Play Station, this became my dream. I spent hours sketching Mega Man levels and writing out elaborate interactive stories. I filled notebook after notebook with my game designs and thought that if I could only get these notes in front of someone at Nintendo then they would see my genius.