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August 2009

Is Game Engine Technology The New Face Of Digital Storytelling In Advertising?


According to an article in Advertising Age, game engine technology will be the new face of digital storytelling. The same technology that is used to drive gaming systems can be used to design interactive advertisements that enable the user to become part of the story behind the ad.

In the article, Loni Peristere, co-founder of special effects studio Zoic, explains the concept of "open source storytelling" where the merging of video games and storytelling will bring interactivity to a whole new level.

The ability of gaming system technology to put narrative into real time space offers exciting possibilities for advertisers. Imagine an ad where the user is able to interact with the story and drive it to where he/she wants it to go? The same immersive experience offered to gamers can now be used to engage consumers in a way that allows them to interact with a product and/or service.

According to Peristere, animation and visual effects are "going to go away and it will become a storytelling business." The best visual effects artists are storytellers, and to Peristere the whole industry is really going back to the art and business of storytelling. Seems as if this change can also benefit advertisers who are looking for new and innovative ways to create buzz in an already overcrowded environment.

What do you think of using game engine technology to drive real-time narrative in advertising? Will this kind of interactive storytelling lead to increased sales for advertisers? Or is this just a trend that will eventually die out?


Following The Script: Brand Storytelling And The Art Of Persuasion

The world's most iconic and successful brands relate to us on both a rational and emotional level. They tell a timeless story that embodies something that affects us deep in our psyche. They give us an experience that is able to transcend time and help us identify our place in the world.

Hollywood screenwriters are masters of the art of story. To be successful, they have to produce a script that masters all the key elements of story in a way that engages and entertains an audience. If the story isn't compelling and has little meaning to the audience, the script and resulting movie will fail. To win in Hollywood, it's critical to get the audience emotionally involved.

In his legendary book Story, famed screenwriting guru Robert McKee defines storytelling this way..."Storytelling is the creative demonstration of truth. A story is the living proof of an idea, the conversion of idea to action. A story's event structure is the means by which you first express, then prove your idea...without explanation."

For a story to be successful, McKee claims that the audience must not only understand it, it must believe it. To get your point of view across, it's essential that you tell a good story.

As marketers, one of our daily challenges is to figure out a way to make our brand stand out from the rest of the pack. By using elements of storytelling in our marketing campaigns, we're making a connection with consumers that's very human and, at the same time, very persuasive.

Consider your life as part of a brand story. What defines you? Are you a Mac person? A Starbucks aficionado?  A Nike person? A Tiffany's type? What is your brand at its core? Does it appeal to the desire for freedom in all of us? The desire for status - or the desire to be unique?

To be successful, a brand must have sales - and McKee hits on this in his definition of story. The idea that a story is the "conversion of idea to action" demonstrates the ability of story to persuade people to do something with the idea. Marketers and advertisers design campaigns to attract consumers to certain brands but without an element of story, chances are we'll forget what the ad was for...and we won't act on it.

The clip below is an excerpt from an interview with George Stroumboulopoulos on CBC's hit show The Hour.

McKee offers other nuggets that can also be applied to the branding world. See how you can apply his thoughts to your own branding campaigns:

  • Story is about archetypes, not stereotypes
  • Story is about mastering the art, not second-guessing the marketplace
  • Story is about respect, not disdain for the audience
  • Story is about originality, not duplication
  • Story is about eternal, universal forms, not formulas