Thinslicing The Hunger Games


Plenty has been written about the significant role played by a carefully organised and orchestrated social campaign for The Hunger Games. So I’ll simply jump to my ‘thinslice,’ namely how the movie marketers used fan response to tweak as they went along. First of all though consider that this process is much like gaming company wooga carefully monitors user response to tweak aspects of its online games to help boost engagement and thus ROI.

Secondly, to get back to The Hunger Games, and to illustrate what this means – the value of feedback from fans – to be able to optimise your campaign here’s a key quote from Lionsgate’s senior vice president for digital marketing Danielle DePalma:

“What seemed to work the best, too, was fan-created content. I mean, the Peeta memes were always the top performers. That’s how we were really learning about what our audience liked most, through those Facebook results.” This character-focused social media strategy is also backed up by Crimson Hexagon’s analysis of the factors impacting on the success of Julian Fellowes, creator of the popular period drama ‘Downton Abbey’, with the US version, ‘The Gilded Age’ soon to be launched:

“Our analysis indicates that in order for Fellowes to recreate “Downton Abbey” with “The Gilded Age,” he must develop compelling, witty characters with strong moral convictions.”

In other words (ref: my previous post on the value of thinslicing), joining together how your audience behaves (qualitative) with what the data tells you (quantitative), gives you the intelligence to optimise your campaign as you go along – providing you possess the level of organisation and flexibility to allow that to happen (context) effectively. That’s what we’ve been doing at Sony EU in Q3 to good effect too, on the back of the colossal success of ‘Skyfall’.

What this means is that social media marketeers have to think and act on fan data much more like online gaming companies if they are going to both engage their customer base, and deliver real returns.


What video games are good for your children?


Neat infographic from ‘Frugal Dad‘ on how to moderate your children’s use of video games. And adding to the intriguing list of education games, there’s the plus-billion correct answer maths free gaming site to have a go at in between shoot-up style gaming too:-)

“My kids can’t seem to get enough of their video games. I can take away the Xbox 360’s power cord or tell the kids to go outside and play, but at the end of the day, they simply want to keep on playing. Fortunately, more and more research is coming out that distinguishes healthy, responsible gaming from the excessive, zoned out variety.

“Our latest infographic goes over some really great things video games are responsible for. It’s pretty surprising to find that genre to genre, games can do some remarkable things for your brain and body. While I’m not thrilled to find my kids three hours in to a Halo session, I’m certainly relieved to learn that some real good can come out of their gaming.

“The other useful thing I took away is that moderation is crucial to healthy gaming. It makes sense. Video games have very real benefits but too much of the same thing, day in, day out, actually ends up hurting you. As a dad, it’s a relief to hear that if I have to, I can still yank the plug and point to the door. Check out the inforgraphic and see what good gaming can do for you.”

Gaming is good for you

Source: Frugal Dad


How to read your opponent to win in poker & battle


I read an interesting piece on today on how the very best poker players are always learning: “The line that separates a good poker player from a winning Poker player is the willingness to constantly learn, observe, and adapt.” What I also found interesting was the contradiction between perception and self-control: “Successful poker players survive because of self control and eyes that carefully read each opponent. Do not bother playing if you do not have self control and is impatient. You will only lose. Self control is about the art of suppressing your emotions so you can carefully analyze the exact situation you are in, which in turn, will help you make wise decisions.”

So it’s interesting that the ability to read ‘subtle signals’ is now being recognised as a science with the help of latest technology: “At the MIT Media Lab, Pentland leads a team of about a dozen researchers who have developed a range of small, wearable electronic devices that can easily and accurately gather the kinds of social data needed for such analyses. These devices track not just the physical location of the people who wear them, but also the finer details of a person’s movement— in effect, his or her body language — and several distinct features of his or her vocal behavior. And by taking note of people’s proximity to others and the patterns of their movement, the team can foster new insights into collective human behavior: the subtle differences between effective and ineffective teams, and the structures and incentives that either improve or block collaboration.”

OK, but poker players aren’t going to purchase the services of the MIT Media Lab, though you never know, maybe the Media Lab staff use their expertise to play poker? After all it’s not the first time academics have used their knowledge to beat the house, though that’s previously been using maths systems. Specifically, as it says in Wikipedia the MIT Blackjack Team, a group of students and ex-students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Business School, Harvard University, and other leading colleges utilized card-counting techniques and more sophisticated strategies to beat casinos at blackjack worldwide. The team and its successors operated from 1979 through the beginning of the 21st century.

That said what can the best poker players do to follow through on the need to “constantly learn, observe, and adapt”? If they wish to raise their game through greater perception of their opponent, not simply the maths of the cards, what is there available to help? Well I for one am interested as greater perception is one attribute I have worked hard to progress. Instead of emotional self-control I am more focused on ‘balance’, or staying cool, which is certainly required at the poker table. But what I have come across that reminds me of the need to learn, observe and adapt is the the theories of Colonel John Boyd:

Boyd hypothesized that all intelligent organisms and organizations undergo a continuous cycle of interaction with their environment. Boyd breaks this cycle down to four interrelated and overlapping processes through which one cycles continuously:

  • Observation: the collection of data by means of the senses
  • Orientation: the analysis and synthesis of data to form one’s current mental perspective
  • Decision: the determination of a course of action based on one’s current mental perspective
  • Action: the physical playing-out of decisions

Sound useful? If you are an elite poker player and want to know more read this blog post ‘OODA and you': “These are ruthless times, ” it concludes.

Me in a tank with a grin on my facePhoto by Stuart Glendinning Hall

Me riding a tank in 1994, smiling.

What is Bunja?


Bunja launches today —  “a new interactive audio toy designed to help improve your maths skills with an exciting interactive adventure story. As you answer questions, Bunja learns about you and adapts to your ability. You are rewarded with new adventures where you need to help Sam, who’s lost in the jungle, by choosing what to do.”

The name of the Game


Well, well. Funny what you overhear in you local Gamestation outlet. Today Gamestation staff banter included a reference to a buyout and staff policy not to discuss pricing with the local GAME store, located but 2 mins walk away. Maybe I was lucky, but it turns out that was right. GAME bought out Gamestation just last month, and bosses want to keep the branding (pricing too?) separate. This line in a report on the sale also caught my eye:

“GAME lists Gamestation’s standing amongst the more hardcore gamer as a key reason for the acquisition, compared to GAME’s more mainstream offering.”

And what do you know the Office of Fair Trading is also interested in how this will effect the ‘hardcore gamer’..[ report]

“The OFT enforces competition law, and is currently looking into the GBP 74 million (EUR 108m) retail buyout to see if it will result in reduced competition in the games retail market.”

“The GAME Group offered the following comment: “As expected we have notified the acquisition of Gamestation to the OFT for normal regulatory review. This review will take about two months and we will be co-operating fully with the OFT process.”