How We Stay Relevant At Mighty Bear
Introducing the “Zeitgeist Slides”!
As a company in the business of fun, we have to make sure that we keep up to date with what our audience is enjoying. Although our office is based in a multicultural hub (Singapore), we still make a conscious effort to ensure our staff are on top of the latest trends.
Our aim isn’t to dictate what our Bears should or should not like but to make the next global hit, we have to make sure that our Bears stay relevant with the latest trends. For this, we use Zeitgeist Slides. 🤓
What are Zeitgeist Slides — Zeit-what!?
“Zeitgeist” is made up of the German words Zeit, meaning “time”, and Geist, meaning “spirit” or “ghost”. Put together, it is a concept that refers to the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.
The term “Zeitgeist Tapes” comes from the British TV show “The Thick of It”. In it, the prime minister was given regular short-form digests to make sure he would not be caught unprepared by questions on pop culture. A cheat sheet of sorts.
At Mighty Bear, we use Zeitgeist Slides to ensure our Bears are on the pulse of pop culture. By preparing the slides, we allow the Bears to be able to focus on their work throughout the week and just be given a TL;DR at the end.
A good way to put it would be weekly updates on popular culture for busy people.
Why Zeitgeist Slides Matter
As individuals, we have a tendency to only be up to date on the parts of pop culture that interest us. As people get older and busier, it’s harder to stay in touch with the latest trends, or parts of pop culture we wouldn’t normally follow.
Games are taking a bigger and bigger role in today’s media landscape. Prominent shows like Black Mirror have entire episodes based around gaming, the most notable being Playtest, Striking Vipers, and their interactive episode Bandersnatch.
Music is also becoming increasingly intertwined with games. Besides songs that directly reference games (“Video Games” by Lana Del Ray and “Chun-Li” by Nicki Minaj), there has also been an increase in direct collaborations between games and artists. The most prominent examples would probably be League of Legends’ virtual K-pop girl group, “K/DA” and their spiritual successor, hip-hop collective “True Damage”. Knowing which artists and genres are culturally relevant helps build a stronger bond with your players.
YouTube is one of the most popular social media platforms amongst Gen Z and Millennials currently (link). According to Forbes, five of the top 10 highest earning YouTubers create videos focused on gaming. Twitch is another live-streaming video platform for games that enjoys close to 1 million unique daily visitors who spend an average of 95 minutes per day on the platform. The number of people who are exposed to gaming-related content every day is increasing and we need to make sure our games are pertinent to them.
How Zeitgeist Slides Help
It’s important to know which styles and trends are “in” at the moment. This influences the Art Direction of the game, and subsequently everything from the characters and icons to the environments.
Besides being able to come up with relevant content and dialogue, being culturally aware helps you take inspiration from trends and events that matter to people. By bringing attention to these new films, artists, books, or even movements, we broaden the horizons of our Bears and let that inspiration feed into their work.
What Goes Into The Zeitgeist Slides
Know your audience
First, identify which user segment you want to know more about. We realised that a large segment of our users was made up of Gen Zs in the US, but not many of our Bears were up to date with Gen Z pop culture. With that in mind, any content shared in the Zeitgeist Slides should be relevant and interesting to your average Gen Z. If we throw any one of our Bears into a room with an American teenager, they should *hopefully* be well-equipped to have an engaging conversation with them.
Before you start making your game, you should invest some time to do some initial research on your target audience. It’s easy to say that Gen Z is our target audience but besides their age, what else do we know about them? Do we know what *really* makes them tick? Knowing things like who they’re listening to, what they’re wearing, or even what they like to eat help to set a baseline which you can use for future Zeitgeist updates.
Follow the right people
Following trend leaders on social media should be your next step. It’s important to be constantly checking what or who is trending on channels like Twitter and YouTube (Pro Tip: make sure you check your geolocation). I like looking at what’s trending on Google Search too. The only downside is that you can’t actually narrow down the search parameters to see what specific age groups are searching but it can be a good starting point!
Make time to read
Put aside a bit of time daily to see what has been trending on your target audience’s preferred social media channels. Instead of frantically searching on the day of the presentation to find hot topics; it’s much easier to collect them throughout the week. You don’t have to flesh them out immediately, taking note of the headline or a link to whatever caught your eye should be enough.
“The more you say, the less people remember.”
We keep the description for each hot topic brief. During the presentation, we allow the floor to ask questions. However, we try to encourage everyone to do their own research after the presentation in case they’re interested in a certain topic.
Remember your goal
You’re not running a tabloid! Remember that your aim is to provide people with relevant pop culture updates. There’s no need to tell the office about how Hilary Duff recently got married in a super chill ceremony or how this other celebrity was photographed with a new bae (OMG 🙀). That won’t help them make better games. However, there are times when we have to understand that the odd piece of celebrity gossip might be relevant still because of who the news is about.
It might be glaringly obvious when certain BIG topics are missing from the Zeitgeist Slides (hello Star Wars!). We made a rule of thumb to not add things that people in our studio were already talking about or sharing amongst themselves. The slides are meant to educate the studio on things that they wouldn’t usually pay attention to.
When in doubt, just check what Kanye West has been up to that week. He usually has said or done something worth sharing!
Regardless of the industry that you’re in, it’s worth investing effort in keeping up with your target audience and sharing your findings with your team regularly. Staying relevant to your customers is always important.
We live in a world that loves everything new. Players will forgive mistakes (if you’re upfront and you own them), but they *will not* stick with you if you cease to be relevant.
At Mighty Bear, the player experience always comes first. If we want to truly create with the player in mind, then we have to take the time to understand what they like and what inspires them. The Zeitgeist Slides are part of our commitment to making sure our Bears have all the resources that they need to do so.
PS. We’re considering sharing our weekly Zeitgeist Slides with a wider audience. Leave a comment below if you’d like us to share the link!