The game industry has not focused solely on the game part of the worlds it has created, but has expanded to allow for different ways to interact with their characters. When looking at it from the lens of development, it makes sense for game developers (or the company that publishes the games) to expand on where you can find the same world and characters; essentially marketing and merchandising. Why is this the case?
A Deeper Bond
Here’s a thought exercise for you. Go ahead and think about what movies do, and where they draw material from. Think about the industries that draw from them. If you were to draw a tree map connecting these industries, there would be so many branches and lines connecting them that after a while it would be difficult to know in which medium an idea originated from. Currently the highest grossing movies are based on characters and worlds that originally came from comics or video games. And of course there are popular games that draw from movies or comics. In the case of game developers, this means creating games based on the characters and story lines, or taking their own IPs into another medium.
In Koukoi’s case you can find the Crashing Season characters in a short comic and as papercraft. This approach makes sense because of the visual style and gameplay involved. Crashing Season’s lowpoly look translates well into papercraft because the animals maintain their edges and look almost identical to the ones in the game. As for the comic, giving context to the gameplay gives more reason to play it. As a game developer wouldn’t it be desirable to make your game something people want to interact with in more ways than one?
A second instance of the developer being able to create a deeper emotional connection with the game’s characters is through toys; these could be action figures and plushies. One could say that these toys appeal to kids specifically, but also to adults because there is something nostalgic and joyous about saying “Look at my new toy!” This is something worth considering just because it is fun to think about there being a plushy version of a character from your game, one that will hopefully last for years.
What is “immersive experience”?
How would you define the idea of “immersive experience”? Doing a Google search yields some interesting articles on the subject. In games we can take the term to envelope the feeling of “I want to continue this game. What will the next level be like?”, and also what takes place when characters are found in other mediums. When looking at the Crashing Season comic, hopefully the feeling the player has is wonder and curiosity; this is so that the player will want to read the comic, and be invested in the game.
Having the characters exist as something that the players can interact with in a different way adds a layer to the immersive experience already existing in the mobile game. With papercraft the player has the chance to create their own stories (let’s assume you play with the papercraft and create mini movies and post fun pictures on Instagram, or that it is used as a way to keep kids entertained). And that is the power of having different dimensions for the world created in a game. The game creates its world, and an immersive experience around it, and so providing different ways to interact with it thereby deepening the bond.
Another example of a way for a marketer or developer to create this immersion and bond with the game’s characters is through associated merchandise. This merchandise could be toys, placing the images on clothes and stationary (there are other examples), which serve the purpose of both creating brand awareness and another way of interacting with the game. Though this might seem excessive since you are taking something that exists in a game and translating it to a product, a game developer is creating entertainment which is what merchandise adds to. Of course this does not mean you should go and place your characters everywhere and on everything because there is such a thing as over doing it (would you go as far as placing images of your characters on fruits, like Star Wars did infamously?).