Game Tie Ins And Media Synergy

After our recent article on Harlequin getting into gaming (making me feel good about my own predictions ) I began thinking that my own theories had been a bit too limited.

Harlequin's game was a hidden object mystery game – not a DateSim, which I speculated would more fit the audience.  This made me realize I'd not given enough thought to other gaming/media tie ins.  So I'd like to speculate what else could work – and encourage you progeeks out there to think just what kinds of games and what kinds of media could work.

DATESIMS – Sure datesims tie in well with romance – but what about other settings?  You could explore characters in non-romantic stories with datesims as "side stories" to the main continuity, each revealing different things about the characters.

MYSTERY GAMES – Harlequin tied theres into romance, but these genres also work well with crime dramas (of course) and regular dramas.  You can even use them to show the results of other story lines – imagine being a police investigator in a world of superheroes (tell me that a "Gotham PD" game could not be incredible).

STANDARD ADVENTURE – Your usual point-and-click or walk-around-use-object adventure hasn't gone away, and it fits a variety of genres.  These would be good for many multimedia tie-ins.  I think they work very well for setting-intensive worlds so you can explore them in the games – from haunted houses to whole planets.

PUZZLE GAMES – Yes, Puzzle quest proved you can create amazing things by fusing puzzle games.  I think that puzzle games can be universally used in many genres – as long as you don't overdo it and make it inappropriate.  Puzzle games may be fun tied into educational content or genres that already fit it.  The fusion puzzle game (like Puzzle quest) MIGHT work, but it'd have to be well designed.

TRIVIA GAMES – This is an ignored genre (1 vs. 100 aside), but is GREAT for tie-ins – and cheap.  With DLC, party/casual games, and multimedia tie-ins you're set for making trivia games popular.  Would you, my fellow geeks, play a Mythbusters trivia game?  Yeah, I thought so . . .

RPGS – This is iffy, since an RPG takes some dedicated design, but I see RPGs as a given tie-in to media properties if done right – which it usually isn't.  Done right of course the tie-in potential is great.  Beyond the usual Fantasy/SF tie ins, I seriously think thought needs to be given to historical and modern tie-ins.  These are more immersive, but bite-sized DLC could also make the games more interesting to the casual gamers.

WARGAMES AND RELATED – THESE have been getting tie-ins for years.  Keep doing it, game companies . . . just do it even better.  I'd like to see some of the Wargame ideas applied to other areas – Brutal Legend's more RTS/Dynasty Warriors approach worked well for its themes.  Some more epic fantasy, SF, and military media could benefit from the right war-game.

– These are actually the toughest to do since they're often complex, can easily be done wrong (I'd say auctioneers and RPGs are the most done wrong tie-in wise), and require appropriate setting design.  True, but done well, they can be awesome (Batman: Arkham Asylum).  A good action game needs to fit the property in question, be it gritty realism or over-the-top action.  These fit the usual genres and properties, so there's not much more to say.

So a few thoughts about other gaming types and where they fit into media synergy.

What are yours?

– Steven Savage