What Can The Games Industry Teach Us About Effective Content Creation?

under Content Strategy.

gamingMost of you probably don't know this, but I've been a gamer for most of my life. Ever since I picked up a controller at the tender age of five, I was hooked. Along with writing, video games have been a constant companion of mine through the years.

I haven't just played, though. For the past decade or so, I've been keeping a close eye on the industry behind the games. And I've noticed something.

Gaming has changed.

It used to be that video games were very much a 'niche' pastime. only a very small, select camp of individuals had any interest whatsoever in gaming, and those who didn't either ignored the hobby or derided it. It wasn't seen as something ordinary people did - rather, it was an activity confined almost exclusively to those who lived on the fringes of society.

Then, seemingly overnight, video games got big. I wish I could point to one singular event, piece of tech, or individual that brought about this massive spike in popularity, but the truth is...there's no simple answer as to how it happened. It was a whole combination of different factors - the popularity of the Internet and social media, the advent of the smartphone, and the ever-increasing budget backing AAA games are just a few.

Today, games appeal to a larger audience than ever before.

Game Development And Content Creation - Two Sides Of The Same Coin

At this point, you're probably all wondering why I'm telling you all this. What's the point of this massive information dump? And what, if anything, does gaming have to do with content creation?

Quite a bit, actually.

See, game development and content marketing have a lot more in common than you'd expect. A good game developer understands the audience they're designing for - they know how to create a title that entertains and engrosses; one that'll keep the player coming back for more. That sounds familiar, doesn't it?

In much the same way that the best games make people want to keep playing, the best websites make people want to keep visiting.

There's another way in which the games industry mirrors the content creation and marketing field, as well - saturation. Thanks to the rise of mobile gaming and indie development (topics for another day, I'm afraid), there are virtually thousands of different titles clogging digital storefronts. What that means is that game developers must make their games more unique - and more entertaining - than the competition.

"Brands and marketers today compete for the attention of their customer with all of the innumerable other outlets that are available," writes Matt Jessel of Marketing Land. "Thus, content marketers increasingly find themselves in the entertainment business."

Games "Journalism" And Content Marketing

Now that we've established all the things that game development and content creation have in common, we're next going to take a look at games media - the secondary content, news sites, and advertisements that have sprung up around gaming. In truth, this is where the real value lies - if you want an idea of what top-notch content looks like, simply examine sites like Polygon or gamesindustry international.

Say what you will about whether or not they can be considered journalists - the jury's still out on that one - but the writers who make it to these sites are masters of their trade. They know exactly how to foster discussion among their readers, they know exactly what their audience wants in a piece, and they know exactly how to market their content to that audience.

Not So Different After All

Alright, I think I've talked enough. Let's wrap things up, folks. I'm sure we all have somewhere to be, right?

Essentially, what I'm trying to say with all this information - the point that I'm trying to get across with all of my rambling - is that if you want to learn how to create effective content, you shouldn't just limit yourself to SEO blogs or social media experts. The world of entertainment - and in particular, that of video games - has a great deal to teach about both the creation and marketing of awesome content. All you need to do is look in the right places.

Image credit: R Pollard