The Perfect Game
Entertainment has never been so much at the heart of our societies and cultures as it is now. The signs are pretty clear: video gaming business reached the biggest growth than ever and consumers are constantly on the lookout for entertaining experiences. Marketing and advertising professionals are constantly injecting good practices of the entertainment in their works at different levels of thinking and for interactive matters. We definitely have more time to dedicate to entertainment, to relax and to get some free time, but it seems that entertainment now has a new vocation: to awaken our minds, to broaden our perspectives and to make us learn more about ourselves and the others. Indeed, entertainment has many facets; one, purely entertaining, commercial and industrial, and another, aimed at educating, raising and cultivating through rewarding and valuable experiences. But can we really foresee this new paradigm to be sustained on a long term perspective? Does entertainment have a real impact on our societies, and if so, to what extent? Does it influence our society to play more…and then what is the purpose?
Life at this juncture is practically unimaginable without the technology we enjoy today. In particular, life would not be as it were if not for video games. While, yes, one may think that video games don’t seem as important as telecommunications, and social media, and all the modern day conveniences we need to live an optimal life, we neglect to think about just how much video games influence, shape, and impact our culture, history and way of life. Our culture has been influenced by video games for more than 30 years. All the famous franchises (from Mario to Pokemon) have served as not only mascots, but also popular culture icons, every kid who grew up in the nineties has at least heard of most of them. But over that 30-year span, approximately 7 generations of video games have been created. It sprang from consoles and arcade games, to online-gaming and virtual reality. This gives a setup to a whole new culture.
In these last twenty years, the objectives from the entertainment industry have largely evolved. The video game sector is one of the most representative of this change. More pronounced everyday, gaming is not solely valued for the primary function of entertainment but also to reveal and appeal to the player and its need of competitive and fighting spirit. More and more series and video games aim to do more than pure entertainment. For example, Life Is Strange from Square Enix, who recently released his prequel “Before the storm” with a campaign “One person can change everything” or the Netflix series, ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ and ‘Sex Education’, which puts taboo subjects such as suicide, oral sex, mourning, adultery, friendship, rape, teen violence and depression in the focus. These are the new promises of today’s entertainment. But are they still used for communication or for marketing reasons ? It is difficult to answer this question in a clear way, at the risk of making an inaccurate association. One thing for sure, Life Is Strange and the new series on Netflix have generated a lot of conversations and have, a priori, helped many fans in their personal lives.
It should be remembered that this new tendency is also reflected in the design of video games and content in general, which now tends to give as much importance to script and narrative immersion as to game play. Today, gamers need stories to click to, and especially characters to identify with. We also note that more and more series surprise us with more enriching scenarios and characters, much less perfect and more realistic. We also note that Netflix (among all the others) has opted for a more human treatment of her Marvel heroes: under the prism of “street level superheroes”, these characters have powers but remain mere human beings. By creating conversations around new themes, entertainment becomes an actor of cultural development. It can be considered that the aspiration promise is partly fulfilled.
The big players in entertainment have a clear impact in our lives and behaviors. The need for storytelling and immersion falls on the quest for more experiences. While the choices delivered to people have never been so multiple and we tend to move towards a mode of consumption in “self service”, the need to entertain at any price, everywhere, all the time and in a personalized way and contextualized is becoming stronger. Today we have the ability to choose what we want to consume, where and when we want it. Entertainment is everywhere and the increase of our free time accentuates its presence. Classic advertising cannot reach young people anymore? Let’s propose them to live experiences and develop the advergaming to fix it.
The brands should really learn from the fields and the experience of cinema and video games to restructure and modernise their operations and their appeal. Gamification (a word that we though completely dusty and old-fashioned but makes a disruptive come-back) is a sprawling reality that takes place in environments that were barely suspected. In the workplace for instance, companies choose a gamified management to motivate their employees, recruitment and training processes now include games or “serious games”. Education is also starting to integrate the video game, as in Norway, where eSport is taught in high school.
We might wonder if all our behaviors may be influenced in some extent to games and competition — from education to socialization, from work to family happiness.