Pass the Ammo

What makes some stuff spread through the internet like a flame through a field of firecrackers, while other stuff sits on YouTube for weeks and gets crap-all attention?

And how do you make the good viral meme stuff? Mark wrote about this recently.

The trick seems to be in creating unique bespoke content for the online platform that isn’t re-formatted material from a TV programme or bits from the cutting room floor. Viewers respond to video that is written, shot and produced specifically with short form in mind. With this model, the possibility of video going viral is much higher

Sure, but I’d say you can refine the character of online content even further by viewing it through some game dynamics.

Using the internet is socializing. The internet has no audience. It has participants – us. What are we doing here? We’re communicating. Facebooking ourselves. Sending bloody e-mail. We’re all broadcasting ourselves to each other.

Socializing is a game. It’s a complicated game, but it’s got rules and a goal. The rules are location and sub-culture specific. Some of the rules are extremely subtle. Some can be written down, like: “Belching loudly at the table gains you points in Japan, but it loses you points if you’re in Canada, unless you’re with a bunch of lads in a certain mood (etc.)” The goal of the game is always to max out your kudos. The game is always on. The winner of each session gets the laughs, gets the job, gets the drinks, gets the promotion, gets laid.

Linking and embedding are game play activities.Including links to content is a way to enrich your communication and thus affect your social standing. When I link to this and say OMG ROFL!!1!1, it’s not just because I think it’s funny. It’s not just because I think you’ll think it’s funny. It’s because I know that if I send you the link, in some way you’ll think I’m funnny. I’m playing the socializing game. When I link something, I’m using someone else’s content to project an image of myself.

Players will link if linking improves their game standing. When I link to something, I am choosing to become the transmission vector for a piece of content. And I am choosing to do this because when I do, some of its qualities are transferred to me. Players will link and share content if associating themselves to the content will make them look cool and gain kudos. We are giving them game pieces. We are giving them ammo.

‘Viral’ internet content is game ammunition. We want to give them ammo they’ll want to use. We’ll want to produce things that they’ll want to associate with. You can think of the content as a nugget that you throw at the other players. On impact it should obtain a positive reaction, and it should make the sender gain kudos.

So I’d say you can look at making viral internet content as a process of crafting useful game pieces for the social primate game and releasing them into the internet game space.

What do you say to that?

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2 thoughts on “Pass the Ammo

  1. Yes …

    Wired, cool, kudos, ammo, primate etc…one aspect.

    But how about…

    Communication, belief, message, sharing, co-operate, community, expression etc as another aspect.

    Science or humanism?

    Au contraire (no I can’t speak French ;-))

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