Media Perspective: The games industry is the clear winner, so time to take note

What do you think is the most successful medium of the past 20 years?

Magazines have had a good run - newsagents seem to be loaded down with more and nichier titles. TV's undoubtedly having a bit of a golden age, creatively if not commercially, and the internet seems to be proving quite popular with the young people.

But I think the winner has to be games (video games, computer games, whatever you want to call them) because they've come from nowhere and created a massive industry in an incredibly short space of time. And think about their successes to date. They build up expectation and make us buy expensive boxed hardware to put in our homes, or carry around with us, which we have to upgrade constantly.

We then have to shell out for the games, which are released with alarming frequency. And sometimes we have to subscribe to the game as well as pay for it.

It's like the games industry has taken a bit of the revenue model from every other medium ever invented. They get away with this because they've created something transfixing and hypnotic.

I suspect there's much the advertising and media business can learn from the games industry, not least because they know how to create something people want to spend time with, playing and learning about. And we have to learn that or die, because we all know how expensive interruption is getting.

The best thing we could learn is how to be mysterious and entice people into a flow-state: that almost hypnotic feeling you experience as you are drawn through each new gaming puzzle and challenge. Our industry couldn't do flow if our lives depended on it, as we blurt out everything in 30 seconds and keep repeating it until they submit.

In order to ensure we're delivering the right message, we've made a fetish of clarity - so we can't do mystery either. Most ads are as clear as highly polished glass, and about as interesting, too.

It's like every ad, yeah, has that irritating youth habit, yeah, of asking for confirmation that you've understood, yeah, every few seconds, yaknowwhatImean?

That, for me, is part of the genius behind the famously unclear Cadbury "gorilla" ad. This ad doesn't join all the dots and it gets you thinking - a mousetrap that's left some room for the mouse. (It gets me wondering why they could get such a convincing gorilla to do such unconvincing drumming.) We strive for clarity in a telegram, but we should look for involvement and engagement with an ad, and the things that engage us are often complex and puzzling. No-one ever came out of a cinema saying: I really liked that, it was really clear.

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