Games Are Fascinating: Trust Me

Posted: October 5, 2011 in Books, Business Books, Games
Tags: , , ,
You know what to expect here, even if you can’t read kanji

 So this week I’m listening to Sally Hogshead’s Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. It’s a look at the properties that hook your mind and get you interested in something. One thing I really like is that the author does a great job illustrating how the fascination triggers work on the inter-personal level as well as on the large-scale corporate branding pushes. In the social media extravaganza, personal branding is just as important as corporate branding.

So there’s the LeVar Burton introduction to the book. I’m not going to sum up how to apply the triggers to your personal brand or next marketing push, because there’s obviously a whole book you can read on the matter. What I do want to look at is how games use these triggers to hook our interest.

The first fascination trigger we’ll look at is the Trust trigger. Trust is the familiar, the reliable, the safe. It’s predictable. It doesn’t matter if you walk into a McDonald’s in New York or in Tokyo, the experience is as identical as the company can make it. It’s familiar, repeatable. We know what to expect.  The message (greasy burgers and french fries in a hurry) is repeated over and over.

Predictable isn’t bad, reliable isn’t bad. It’s a quality we know and trust. It doesn’t defy our expectations. You’ll see Trust leveraged quite a bit within the Nintendo family. They have heritage properties. If you pick up a game with Mario on the cover, you could be getting a racing game (MarioKart), a arcade fighter (Super Smash Brothers), or a platformer (Super Mario Brothers). But you do know you are going to get a semi-casual, family-friendly game. Nintendo is certainly an innovator (Wii, 3Ds), Trust and predictability doesn’t mean you stand still creatively. It means that even if I’m waving my arms around like I’m practicing semaphore, I’m touching base with something that is not entirely unexpected.

Nostalgia is trusted. When you break out your old NES and light gun to play some Duck Hunt, it’s the Trust trigger that makes it so appealing. Like a digital version of cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, these games take you to a very happy emotional place. Nintendo takes advantage of this by porting their titles into many of their consoles. Even before the nostalgia though, Nintendo was trading on its good name.

Shovelware is not a new phenomenon in the gaming world. Bad games have been around for a long time. To protect their consumers Nintedo rolled out their Seal of Quality. The quality seal might now guarantee you’ll have fun, but it is a game designed to Nintendo’s specifications and under their auspices.

Obviously, the Trust trigger is used by many other development companies. Anyone who has an intellectual property uses Trust to a greater or lesser degree. Publishers of game reviews have to have Trust or they will lose their audience (and their subsequent advertisers).  But no one makes it as much of their identity as Nintendo does.


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