Everyone likes a good story. Now, to be fair, some of us like them written for us, and some of us like them drawn. Some want them up on the big screen, others in the pages of a comic book (either the physical or digital variety.) But no one can resist the pull of a good plot – and if they can, I don’t want to know them J
So, what’s the glue? What’s the hook to suck us all in? If you’re a comic book fan, like most of us at BBP are, all it takes is a character we can relate to, a touch of jeopardy, one or two peaks of risk-and-reward intensity and an ending that takes your breath away – there really is nothing quite like a good tale well told.
Here’s the thing – you can see the pattern in comics or a video games, but once you start to look around you can see how that basic template is rolled out time and time again – and not just in our favourite genres. The age-old business of conjuring up a sense of drama slipped out of the purely creative realm long ago. Everyone is telling stories now.
Take a broad view of just about any business in today’s day and age and you can see how they’re trying to capture a sense of the dramatic action that Marvel (ok, maybe even DC, he says grudgingly) specialise in. Even something as seemingly safe and sedate as online bingo is – when you look at it this way – is an attempt to conjure up the roller-coaster emotional journey of a good drama.
Once you start to dig into the bingo games on 32Red, winkbingo.com, galabingo or any one of the myriad other suppliers that are out there, you’ll see games that take familiar, iconic figures – figures that players already have some sort of imagined relationship with – and wrap them into an unfolding experience that pulls on players’ emotions and sensations. And it does so in a way that can raise them up or let them down with equal unpredictability. Does that sound familiar? It should. Because the only difference between a pre-written plot and the spinning -wheel drama on offer at 32Red is that in these cases the author is the super hero – and even they don’t know how the story will play out.
The fact that there’s money to be won and lost is just a way to achieve buy-in to the story. Even if you’re not won over by the colourful characters involved, everyone is keen on cash. Winning or losing are just different outcomes to the drama – the payout is just a happy ending playing out.
Irresistible secret recipe
If bingo seems like an obvious example, there are others that are more subtle – even if the basic principles remain the same. Brand building in any business now is as much as anything about telling a story. Hollywood has always known how to sell a good yarn, but nowadays everyone is in on the act.
Pick any corporate website and it won’t be long before you find ‘our story’ – the myth and marketing spin on how one humble hero was inspired to spread his chicken recipe with the rest of the world is a classic of the genre. Apple’s legend of Steve Jobs is just the 21st century version of the same thing (I’ll let you know how the next integration of the legend goes if I ever get my iPad Pro.)
Comics and movie studios, they all love to pull us in with their tight and honed story lines, but their pull on our emotional levers isn’t something they reserve just for the fables of their founding fathers. Just about every commercial that’s out there involves a lot more than someone just shouting at you to buy their stuff, as it now involves the basic mechanism of a good story: character >complication >jeopardy >crisis > resolution.
That’s the real secret recipe. And you can find it everywhere you look.