How Can Games Be Used to Promote Literary Brands?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

game board

By Edward Nawotka

As discussed in our lead article today, gamification is a growing trend among marketers. In one current example from the book world, Kirkus Reviews — the venerable American book review magazine — will launch beta version of a new social network trivia game with game developer Qrank at tomorrow’s PubCamp@SXSW in Austin. The trivia game will focus on literary history, from Gutenberg to the present, and will reside ultimately on the Kirkus Reviews Web site. While the game may be a fun diversion, the intent is less to entertain than to serve as a marketing device to attract readers to their site and keep them there.

Books and games may seem like a natural fit at times, but striking the right balance can be tricky.

Of course, this game assumes the gamer will have a certain level of interest in and knowledge of literature. What of the non-avid readers . . . like, say, hard-core gamers?

There have been several video games that have attempted to combine the two platforms. Dante’s Inferno, for example, turned the classic into a hack-and-slash adventure game. But were the gamers who picked up the title — few, apparently, as the game was considered a commercial failure — inclined to later buy a copy of the book? Highly doubtful. The game, ultimately, did little for Dante’s “brand,” I think. Granted, this is an extreme example.

But say your promoting a new book, several questions arise. If, for example, you use book content to develop a game to market the book, does the reader have to be familiar with the content before hand to enjoy the game? Ideally, no. But the key is making a game based on a book enjoyable enough without familiarity with the material. Or, if you’re looking to promote an author and their backlist, do you cater to the fans or the newbies? Or perhaps you do both?

Obviously, the situation is tricky and still evolving. Let us what you think in the comments.

And for more on the intersection between gaming, publishing, social networking and even a few things you might not have thought of next, follow Publishing Perspectives throughout the next week while we bring you all the news, buzz, and hype from SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.