Crossing into the Disney Brand

Console Game: Kingdom Hearts Crossing into the Disney Brand SquareEnix worked with Disney to create Kingdom Hearts.  SquareEnix gained popularity by creating unique characters and appealing to a teen audience. Although SquareEnix gained popularity for creating the Final Fantasy series, it received criticism over not creating games with sensible story lines. Disney, on the other hand, is known for creating touching story lines and cute kiddish characters. … Continue reading “Crossing into the Disney Brand”

Console Game: Kingdom Hearts

Crossing into the Disney Brand

SquareEnix worked with Disney to create Kingdom Hearts.  SquareEnix gained popularity by creating unique characters and appealing to a teen audience. Although SquareEnix gained popularity for creating the Final Fantasy series, it received criticism over not creating games with sensible story lines. Disney, on the other hand, is known for creating touching story lines and cute kiddish characters. When these two companies collaborated, they created a game that took over the market for several years. Originally released in the early 2000s, Kingdom Hearts still has sequels that are being released. The original Kingdom Hearts made approximately 4.68 million dollars in revenue. It sold 3.45 million in US, 1.23 million in Japan, and shipped 5.9 million worldwide. Needless to say, it was a huge success.

The game uses cross overs to bring SquareEnix characters into contact with major Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Donald Duck. This goes a step further when other Disney characters and worlds are introduced into the story and open for exploration such as the Little Mermaid, Alice in Wonderland, and Tarzan. By using these common and famous Disney stories, the game offers a sense of familiarity for its players. The player knows that Ursula, the Red Queen, and the black panther are all antagonistic characters. The player is also familiar with the cunning nature of the Cheshire Cat and the loving nature of Jane and her father. This becomes an advantage for the player, because the player knows what to expect. All of the worlds follow in accordance with their original stories. SquareEnix just added a twist.

The Disney brand was essential to the success of this game, because without it there would be no Kingdom Hearts. Without it, the game would lose a ton of marketing especially towards younger kids who enjoy Disney. By slapping Mickey Mouse and other recognisable figures onto the cover, the game was able to reach a broader audience and sell out quickly. The Disney brand wields an enormous amount of power

Lumosity is a lie

In my previous blog post, I spoke to how the design of Lumosity’s game and interface was heavily influenced by the “projected identity” of the player. This is not to evaluate the effectiveness of these brain games, but highlights the dynamic a desire to become intelligent and trust in technology to satisfy this goal. Lumosity’s […]

In my previous blog post, I spoke to how the design of Lumosity’s game and interface was heavily influenced by the “projected identity” of the player. This is not to evaluate the effectiveness of these brain games, but highlights the dynamic a desire to become intelligent and trust in technology to satisfy this goal.

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Lumosity’s marketing targeted consumers who felt a need to become smarter. The “real world” identity of its consumers included people with serious medical conditions, older adults who were experiencing age-related cognitive decline, and students. The “virtual identity” was a concrete profile that Lumosity provided with age comparisons, self-evaluations, and etc. The “projected identity” of these targeted consumers drove Lumosity’s marketing, but was never backed up by scientific research. According to Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, “Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease.” Lumosity not only used the “projected identity” as their key marketing aspect, but highlighted how the games were co-designed by game designers and scientists. This raises some key issues about the human behavior: what makes science and research so ‘promising’ without question? What makes a piece of technology a qualified evaluation tool? Maybe their clients got tired of “traditional” ways of training their cognitive abilities, and found the appealing brain games more trustworthy.
When I reflect on my experience with the game, I have to ask: Do I believe that they made me smarter? I had fun, which is why it’s a casual game according to Juul’s definitions. As an educator, I did not find the games effective because the content is not situated, and therefore not translatable. The game designers focused so much on the procedural style of learning skills that they failed to create content that was contextualized in real-world experiences and isolated these skills to their steps and not their application. My “projected identity” is being developed in other ways, and without the need to rely on brain games that tell me I’m smart.

 

References:
Lumosity to Pay $2 Million to Settle FTC Deceptive Advertising Charges for Its “Brain Training” Program
Mind the gap: What Lumosity promised vs. what it could prove

Problems of Identity in brain games

During the initial tutorial stage in which Lumosity accustoms you to the interface and gameplay, the game uses statistical data to compare you against other players in your age range. Your performance is represented on a bell curve. When you performed poorly, the game’s text remains “juicy” by directly rewarding your intent and ignoring the […]

During the initial tutorial stage in which Lumosity accustoms you to the interface and gameplay, the game uses statistical data to compare you against other players in your age range. Your performance is represented on a bell curve. When you performed poorly, the game’s text remains “juicy” by directly rewarding your intent and ignoring the game score. When I see that I have performed better than the majority, it was an ego boost and bar that was raised for myself. On the other hand, when I performed under the average, I was determined to better myself and more importantly, beat them. Once the tutorial is over, the game no longer compares you to other players, but instead measures your high scores and encourages you to be better than your ‘previous’ self. The design is meant to invoke competitive game play, and creates a difference experience when the competitor is oneself. This type of priming is intentional, and feeds into what James Paul Gee defines as the “projected identity.” This identity bridges the “real-world” identity with the “virtual” identity. According to James Paul Gee, the projective identity is to:

“project one’s values and desires onto the virtual character and seeing the virtual character as one’s own project in the making, a creature whom I imbue with a certain trajectory through time defined by my aspirations for what I want that character to be and become.” (page 55)

Lumosity continues to feed and prime my “projected identity” through a variety of ways. The juiciness is always encouraging of any progress that is made. When I don’t perform as well as I hope to, it never communicates that negatively. The explanations of games and their purpose prime me into believing that the game will help me develop a certain skill. Lumosity has the illusion of unmasking the ‘black box’, although I, as a player, have no idea how tapping on train tracks or swiping on the screen makes me a better multitasker.

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In my third blog post, I will discuss more in depth the effectiveness of these brain games and the role of the “projected identity” in Lumosity’s marketing and design.

 

References:

Gee, James Paul. 2003. What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.