Stories shape our world and impact all aspects of our lives. We’re always telling stories at the pub with friends about what Simon said to Emma and how that made Connor feel, watching the news, or getting engrossed in a neck-and-neck contest on University Challenge. Maybe that last one is just me.
The Power of Storytelling
Storytelling is a natural part of being a human. Narrative helps us understand the world around us, and play with ideas in ways we otherwise wouldn’t.
Crafting a narrative has such power that we use it without even realizing. Aesop’s fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf is so effective in its message that ‘crying wolf’ is now part of our lexicon. Whole societies are built upon folklore and myths that create a sense of shared experience. We even create internal narratives to make sense of the world within ourselves.
It’s not always constructive – look at any time you’ve over thought a situation and catastrophized the worst possible narrative in your head – but it’s so fundamentally human.
Research even regards storytelling as a trait developed over time through evolution.
All this is to say that in the work we do at Heaven, crafting a cohesive and engaging narrative has to be at the forefront of our thinking. We can’t connect with people if we aren’t constantly engaging with the one thing that connects us all as humans – narrative.
Obviously, we aren’t writing novels. Yet. But potential customers still need something to root for – a reason to be engaged in your brand or project. Is it an underdog story, like Lucy and Yak? Are you prioritizing sustainability, like Leon? Or did you somehow create the modern interpretation of Santa Claus, like Coca-Cola?
Regardless of specifics, we can always see a throughline of narrative within successful marketing case studies. They’re living, moving entities that change over time with a constantly evolving narrative.
Why do we need tailored narratives for gaming audiences?
Any marketing you remember is a story. Whether it’s long-term like the above examples or over the course of a single campaign.
Every good story is tailored towards an audience. You might not like the ups and downs of a great episode of Only Connect as much as I do. I might not get as much out of watching Les Miserables as you. Or maybe we just have varied tastes and preferences – there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all narrative.
Gaming audiences are particularly important to consider here; gamers are always engaging in stories, they’re constantly exposed to narrative devices, and know what they like. Gamers are a skeptical bunch – in order to properly involve yourself in their sector, you need to be authentic and engage with the correct audience in meaningful ways.
Key Elements of Crafting a Narrative
So, how do you even begin to crafting your narrative to resonate with gaming audiences?
First, you need to have a clear message you want to get across. What is the story you want to tell? Why are you in the best possible place to tell it?
At Heaven, we worked with OutOfTheBit on Full Void, an absolutely wonderful client with a brilliant story behind the game and studio. Full Void is a puzzle platformer about a rogue AI holding humanity hostage. You play as a young teenager still free in this hostile, deadly society. It’s up to you to find the truth.
Given the art style’s 16-bit era inspiration, as well as the subject matter of AI being more and more prominent throughout society, we were able to understand the building blocks of Full Void’s marketing narrative.
It’s useless having a story if no one you talk to cares about it, though. If we pitched Full Void to FPS streamers, the narrative would be lost. The audience would be wrong.
Instead, we sought out writers and creators with a clear interest in Full Void’s building blocks and independent roots, and were able to build our narrative accordingly. Not all audiences are the same – we had to understand the difference in what our media contacts are interested in compared to their readers – but tailoring our narrative to highlight appropriate aspects is key to ensuring all parties can resonate with the overall story of the campaign.
Now all you have to do is get the message to the appropriate parties. Unfortunately, I can’t prescribe a catch-all solution. This has to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Often, it’s important to keep to traditional channels, receiving attention by capitalising on the messages we know our media contacts will be interested in. Depending on the audience you’ve identified, you might be talking to micro-influencers and TikTok creators, something that will require a vastly different approach.
Wherever you’re attempting to place your narrative, you need to first research the appropriate channel to use. It’s not the glamourous part of the job, but it’ll make everything so much easier in the long run.
If you’re trying to build a narrative around a non-endemic brand to appeal to gaming audiences, you’ll need to fully buy-in. Gaming audiences aren’t going to be fooled by you chucking some gamer language in your messaging and leaving it at that.
The three elements above have to be considered closely beforehand, along with a why. Do you have an audience in mind? What about that gaming audience resonates with existing brand narratives? How does this audience communicate, and how will you find your way in? Are you invested in the gaming sector in the long term? If not, the audience will cotton on pretty swiftly.
Sure, the gaming industry is enormous. Like any other sector, though, you need to put time, effort, and resources into crafting the core pillars that’ll facilitate your entry into gaming, especially for non-gaming brands.
Crafting That Narrative
It’s hard to know where to start. If you don’t understand the narrative you’re building, you won’t be able to find an audience. If you don’t know your audience, you obviously won’t be able to engage and resonate with them. With so much going on and constant fires to put out, it’s easy for crafting narratives to fall by the wayside, despite how vital it is – letting this happen is your competitors’ key to reaching your audience. At Heaven, we have a whole team of industry veterans and experts ready to transform your brand narrative into the next gaming industry success story. Heaven can work with you to craft that narrative and dig deeper into gaming audiences – reach out to our team to find out how.