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Hanukkah Special — Day Three | Audience & USP

From the research we did on the first and the second day of Hanukkah, we collected a number of design parameters for our Hanukkah game. These are:

  • it’s not well suited for a (pseudo-)historical combat or strategy game;
  • it must be playable for non-Jewish players without having to “play-act” Jewish rituals;
  • “hope” is a suitable theme for design decisions across all four design territories;
  • the best fit for the core playing experience is the ludological dimension.

Today, on the third day of Hanukkah, we will explore possible target audiences and the game’s unique selling proposition, or USP.

First, our target audience or target audiences. We’ve already decided, implicitly, that the game should be playable for Jewish and non-Jewish players alike. From there, we must ask at least the following two questions:

  • Should our game about Hanukkah be a game for kids or for adults or both?
  • Should our game about Hanukkah “teach” Hanukkah and its meaning or meanings, or should it simply be an enjoyable experience?

Both questions are tough, each with its own implications.

For the first question, we could go with the conventional answer and make kids the primary target audience and parents the secondary target audience who will not play the game but buy it for their children. Most certainly, though, that’s not a good idea. It would imply that Hanukkah is a nice festival for children, and once you’ve grown out of it, it hasn’t much value to offer to you as an adult. Also, it would imply that adults have all the understanding of Hanukkah they need, which might not necessarily be the case, given the breadth and variety of the Jewish experience, globally and historically.

For the second question, we could also go with a conventional answer and make the game an enjoyable experience, with candles, candies, latkes, gelt, and all kinds of cuddly stuff and bears and dreidel games and puzzles. But Hanukkah has also seen somber and dangerous times throughout history, its lights publicly or privately lit in the face of persecution, expulsion, and lethal threats. Perhaps the most iconic photograph connected to Hanukkah is the one made by Rachel Posner of her and her husband’s family Hanukkiah in Kiel, Germany, in 1932, looking out across the road to a building decorated with a Nazi flag, shortly before Hitler came to power.

So how do we deal with that?

Let’s begin with children. Children always have to cope with a lot, not least because they’re inquisitive and want to explore and learn everything, and they’re pretty good at it, most of the time. But there are things on the darker side of everything that are not easily digested, things that call out for parental supervision and guidance.

Then, adults. Skill and knowledge don’t necessarily translate into deeper knowledge, concomitant with cognitive and emotional investment. And not everybody is a good guide or teacher. Here, too, a game about Hanukkah could teach deeper knowledge on the one hand, and on the other hand it could do so by confronting adults with situations where they have to learn to help and teach others. In the fields of pedagogy and the psychology of learning, teaching is known as one of the best and most effective ways to learn.

The direction all this suggests, with respect to our Hanukkah game’s USP, is an intergenerational game with cooperative gameplay that focuses on exploration and decisions, some of them tough.

Now, non-Jewish players. How can we tie them into this? There is one obvious solution: to take the “welcome guest” phrase literally so that a Jewish player can, and perhaps even must, invite a non-Jewish friend for a common playing experience.

Let’s sum it up.

The primary target audience for our game, in terms of its playing experience, are Jewish children and their parents or other relatives as well as non-Jewish friends who want to learn and be part of the experience.

The game’s secondary target audience, in terms of who will actually buy the game, are Jewish parents and relatives.

As for its USP, the game will be marketed as a game that provides the unique experience of intergenerational cooperative gameplay.

See you tomorrow. Happy Hanukkah!

→ Day Four

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