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Sketchpad: How to Bring Gamers Back to TV

The problem: "Nearly a quarter of video game players watched less TV in the past year and plan to watch even less in the next year" (TV Predictions). The question: "How do you increase the number of players watching TV? How do you increase the amount of time players spent watching TV?" A question for extra credit: "How do you make gamers watch commercials on TV?" Possible answers:
  • Create TV content around game properties to attract game fans. An interesting effort was undertaken by MTV that produced a week of game related programming.
  • Reward players for TV watching by providing extra game content. For example, a TV program could provide cheatcodes that unlock extra equipment or new environments.
  • Make watching TV a condition for playing a particular game. For this model to work, the games will have to tied to and synchronized with particular TV franchises. For example, a strategy game based on "Survivor" could be released at the start of the new season, and the game elements would be unlocked according to the events on each new episode. The show (and the commercials) would provide information necessary for succeeding in the game. Possible model: Kuma\War, "a tactical first and third-person shooter. Kuma\War is an episodic game that re-creates real-world conflicts in video game format using information culled from news accounts, military experts, Department of Defense records and original research. Episodes consist of a playable mission, extensive background text, and often include interviews with military experts, soldiers and other actual participants in the events described" (Wikipedia).
  • Stream TV content into games.
All of this is tricky, because the gamer fan base is divided between many different genres and even more titles. What appeals to the Counter-Strike player will not neccessarily appeal to the player of World of Warcraft. Resources:
  • "Gamers Watch Less TV -- But More HDTV", August 9, 2005, available at tvpredictions.com, accessed on December 18, 2005.
  • "Video Games Explode...", November 14, 2005, press release by MTV Networks, available at biz.yahoo.com, accessed on December 18, 2005
  • Also somewhat related: "Gamers could drive high-definition", news.bbc.co.uk, Jo Twist, January 24, 2005, accessed December 18, 2005.

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