What kind of story can captivate
54 million Online Viewers
According to the digital readout on one side of the stage, the number of live online viewers had topped 54 million. PlayStation was introducing the updated version of their incredibly popular video game “God of War” at the 2017 E3 expo. I had been tapped to open the session with a SandStory presentation. In the green room, I watched a dozen or so game designers get chimps-at-feeding-frenzy excited, over the viewer numbers as they climbed. How in heck, I wondered, do you capture that many eyeballs at one time?
According to Wikipedia, “Games in the ‘God of War’ series have been praised for being the best action games for the PlayStation brand, and some of the best action games of all time. In June 2012, Sony reported that the series had sold more than 21 million copies worldwide.”
The answer to my question is one digital game designers, marketing gurus and Madison Avenue magicians, would gladly sacrifice a few digits on their right hand to find the magic formula for that.
In reality, the answer is simple. The two timeless truths of marketing.
Find a hunger that you can feed. A universal craving. An itch that must be scratched. Vacuum to be filled. Needs ignored. That is the easy one. Humans are covered over, oozing, dripping with empty wishes, desperate longings. Unmet desires, places where they can’t get no satisfaction. We all have them.
And the second?
That is the hard one. It keeps changing. It is the one that keeps sales people up at night. The giant sucking sound called advertising. Sell. Make them believe. Give them a high. Convince them that your food satisfies their hunger, makes their life easier, solves their problem, scratches their itch, or makes it quit. And if it does, even a little bit, they will be back for more. They will also bring their friends. Their friends friends.
Instant communication, BING! – Apple – The cell Phone.
Long checkout lines, BING! Amazon – Online Shopping
No wrinkles, BING! Luminesque – Anti aging cream.
Can’t get a cab, BING! Uber – On demand transportation
No sex, BING! GoDaddy – Pornography
So what is the big deal with video games? Almost 23 Billion spent last year alone?
I am convinced that all humans were created with one giant hunger. Lots of smaller ones. The big one, is the longing to feel alive. Be seen. Recognized. Appreciated. Not just be alive but to feel it. To know that someone, someone significant, takes your life seriously.
Plug into any of the top games. You get to pick who you are. Design your challenge. Choose your weapons. Then strut your stuff. You are alive. You get to be King of your world. No one ignores you. Your foes fear you. Your allies depend on you. You make the difference. You are taken seriously.
These games do can do that. God of War is one of the best. It’s aficionados, mostly men average age 38, are attempting to fill that need.
There is an inevitable flaw. The game ends. Win, lose or choke, eventually it goes away. The thrill is temporary. Regardless the score, the body count, the gold rings, the triumph. If you were empty before, it all comes back. Sadly millions of gamers log on for what ultimately is a temporary fix.
All the people I have known down through quite a few decades who are content, the satisfied ones. At peace. Secure. They are the ones who know them selves and have been known by the only one that really matters. When it comes to being known, God, the ultimate game designer, is the one who knows us and gives our life genuine significance.
It is only in Him and with Him that we get to play the game that never ends.
“Humans can’t do anything better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own work. I can see this is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” Eccl. 2:24
‘God of War’ is a temporary fix for our insecurities, loneliness, emptiness and boredom. The designers have told a grief filled story about a flawed father, the repercussions of his bad choices and the struggle to raise a son in the chaos. It is supported by amazing artwork, beautiful scenes and challenging adventures. The game is violent and can be addictive, yet it reminds us that we are alone, insignificant, helpless and empty without a friendship with the true God our creator.