Video games are suppose to be fun to play, but what about to watch? A famous name in Japan’s video game culture is Takahashi-meijin who’s special gift is making games look fun.

In shooting games, if you want to get high scores, you shoot the enemies as soon as they appear on the screen, but if I did that, the audience would just see the bullets and the explosions. So I wait until the ship is halfway down the screen before I shoot it. You can’t get a high score that way, but it looks more exciting.”

This ‘looks fun’ aspect played a big part in the success of Wii. If you remember the original Wii promotional video, it showed people playing but without showing the games. Or how about this now famous video, where the focus is definitely not on the game, but made you want to buy the game anyway.

Unfortunately, most games can’t be marketed in this way. If you film gamers playing FPS or MMORPG, all you’ll see is long stretches of blank stares interrupted by random outbursts of swearing. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of how fun the game is.

Most game will have to make do with attracting people by making the gameplay experience look fun. Marketing can shortcut this by showing cinematics, or cut together exciting shots, but nothing beats a consistent gameplay experience that looks fun. The postmortem for Portal talked about reducing the distance between story and gameplay, I think reducing the distance between watching and playing the game is another part of its success.

Watching someone else play Portal, you can see each level is a puzzle and how the portal gun works to solve the puzzle. As you watch, you are also drawn into thinking about how to solve the puzzle. In marketing, they say if you can get people to visualize using your product, you are already most of the way to making a sell.

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