Encourage people to tell tales

We’re working really hard on a number of lovely projects at the moment, from Resident Evil 6, NBA 2K13 and some TOP SECRET STUFF right through to our own home-grown Jetpack Journeys – the first stage of which is an iPhone / iPad App of extreme awesomosity.

So that’s added the heat to our summer, sure enough.

The one thing which unites each project is story. I thought you might like an insight into why.

Advertising, education, toy design – you name it. They all rely on communicating something to someone. The advertiser wants to tell you why you should buy product X, the teacher wants you to understand the world around you, the toy designer wants her toy to appeal to your interests and so on.

It’s all about communication.

But, more than that, it’s about stories.

We communicate best when we deal in stories.

There’s a really complex mathematical problem, first postulated by a chap called Zeno. There’s a lovely equation over on Wikipedia which lays it out.

 \left\{ \cdots,  \frac{1}{16},  \frac{1}{8},  \frac{1}{4},  \frac{1}{2},  1 \right\}

Got it?

Me neither.

But how about if I put it this way: you fire an arrow at a stationary target. You will agree that the arrow must first cover half the distance between you and the target. Makes sense? Then it must cover half of the remaining distance. And then half again. Now because it must always cover half of whatever distance remains we can see that theoretically, the arrow can never reach the target.

And whilst you are working out a solution to this infinite series of actions, you feel an arrow enter your heart.

Game over.

Of course, the reality is that whilst the arrow does hit the target but the paradox behind it becomes really easy to grasp once you tell a story. A good teacher will work this way all the time.

It isn’t so different in advertising. Or design. Or any area where you want to bring someone over to your way of thinking.

With our special edition packaging for Resident Evil 6 (for example) we wanted to create a story that people would just “get”. Not story in the sense of the game’s plot but story in the sense of how we are reaching out to the gamer. And told in a way that will encourage the viewer to want to become a part of that story. We want the viewer to then take that story and imagine them having a role in it.

We aren’t doing anything new.

This is the essence of storytelling.

We are just applying it to every part of what we do.

It’s the same with Jetpack Journeys. Whilst Resident Evil 6 is designed to immerse you into a world of horror, Jetpack is designed to inspire young children about space. We need that, you see. It’s important.

So the approach for Jetpack Journeys is to give children the tools to create their own story of our Solar System. They will have fun and, in the process, learn.

When a person is encouraged to participate in the narrative, the story becomes a completely different experience.