Monday, January 16, 2006

The Quick and the Dead

My favorite article of the day? This one. It's about how people make their decisions about whether they like a site within one twentieth of a second of seeing it.

Now, I'm not the sort of person who usually toots my own horn... uh, more than once or twice a day... but, you know what? I've been saying this for at least a year. I've said - from the beginning - that the first moments are the most important in any piece of media. What someone sees in that first instant.

Not minute, although the first minute is more important than the next five.
Not second, although the first second is more important than the next five.

People make their decisions in a flash of neural static. If you can make sense out of the patterns in the static, you can influence people radically.

Hence my commentary about pictures being more "catchy" than words a few days (weeks?) back.

Now, the funny thing about the article is that it is posted on a site which does not obey that precept. The top half of the page is freaking banners. Woo! The left quarter and right quarter are vertical lists, jammed full of text. The article title is tiny - almost unnoticable. And the article itself is jammed between a maze of cramped pictures and ads. Moreover, the color on the sidebars and main banner is red, whereas the article is a washed-out white. Note: Red is a terrible color to make secondary features, because it is so eyecatching. The red isn't even in a "container" shape, it's in a "shattering background" shape. It's a terrible layout!

I just find that, you know, a bit ironic.

Anyhow, the first moment of a game - or a book, or a movie, or a cartoon - isn't the first moment of the game. It's the first moment someone sees something about the game. It's the first moment someone sees an ad, or the front page, or a review.

Obviously, your game content matters. Largely so you can have snazzy ads, front pages, and reviews. The end result drives your sales far more than the actual content of the game, because people assume that other people know what they're talking about... even if they're not actually talking. Getting a good review will sell more of a shitty game than an excellent game with shitty reviews. Classic marketing shit.



Patrick Dugan said...

I agree with the minimalism, I think my last post on Naruto was well served by the one picture near the top. Either that pattern reminds you of dopamine pleasures or you aren't going to be interested in the rest of the post.

I also agree your with take on game advertising, which is why I take a vested interest in the trailers and promotional materials of anything I make. Very often, after I've come up with a concept and a rough ludology I'll try to imagine, typically to a key piece of music, what the trailer would look like.

You should take a look at the early chapters of 21st Century game design, where player archetypes and marketing vectors are discussed, very interesting stuff.

I think Storytron content is going to be geared, at least early on, to episodic content. How do these principles apply there?

Craig Perko said...

The first episode they see, of course. Or the first episode they see reviewed, trailered, etc. Which may not, and probably will not, actually be the first episode.

It's never easy, is it?