When you look at Hanazuki’s website, you will no longer see its clothing designs of T-Shirts, leggings, and tops. What you’re hit with first is Hanazuki herself welcoming you to the World of Hanazuki: Dreams, Treasures and Magical Mayhem. Amsterdam based and born, Hanazuki clothing line revolves around a story of enchanted proportions, but to truly explore the World of Hanazuki what better way to do it than to play a game?
I was invited to Hanazuki’s mini-game launch party at Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York City only to discover that what I thought was just a clothing line became so much more. Unlike brands that try to catch customers’ attention with artwork and style, Hanazuki hopes to capture its audience through story. Explaining the story, characters, and plot seen in the clothing line through a mini-game is a tentative way gaming has transformed the way we interact and immerse in everyday products. The game is used as a medium to introduce consumers (and even reintroduce old consumers) to Little Dreamer, Hanazuki, and the Hemkas whom traverse the World of Hanazuki to fight against the Nightmares that plague the world. When playing Littler Dreamer, you realize he isn’t just a character on a T-Shirt, but an ambitious, caring, and lovable little boy that wants to bring treasures to his friend Hanazuki. This engagement to seek deeper than an image can be made only through gaming because of the cognitive demanding environments, strong and interesting plot, and lack of incongruous visual cues.
According to psychologist Jamie Madigan (Madigan, 2010), good stories attract attention to the game and make the world seem more believable. Even when the world is substantially fictional, stories create a profound immersion since most people have what is called “absorption trait.” People tend to be drawn to things that are fascinating and require less confirmatory information to accept the world they are participating in order to have a good time. Hanazuki’s mini-game is full of nonstop sounds, noises, visual stimulation and gaming that creates an involvement to the make-believe world that players become willfully ignorant to the stuff that doesn’t make sense. When engaging players to collect hearts to present to Hanazuki to fight to save Little Dreamer from Nightmares, you instill within players a demand to connect far deeper than a superficial level. The lack of visual cues outside the game (i.e. a loading screen) continues the momentum of involvement when playing. This continues to facilitate the players’ attention while providing a real experience with the characters to create a bond through story.
The visual imagery of the mini-game continues to flow as each game sequence finishes and then immediately starts another. The unbroken presentation of the world of Hanazuki continues the momentum of immersion that connects player with character. Players are no longer an outside spectator to the World of Hanazuki, but an important part of saving the dream world, fighting the nightmares, and collecting treasure to make Hanazuki happy.
At moments, you are given a chance to customize the characters within the game by changing their outfits, vehicles, and accessories which are then posted onto a worldwide bulletin board for all to see. This creates the media content to be perceived as an experience of self-expression beyond the game. Based on the points a players accumulates, the items they can customize the character vary. Allowing online representations of ourselves can affect our behavior. (Madigan, 2012) When players see an avatar of their own creations viewed or behaving in a certain way, they have a greater preference relative to their options. In a nutshell, because there is something psychologically important in seeing a representation of ourselves interacting with things in a virtual world, we found ourselves liking the brands showcased.
Hanazuki has begun to do something advertisements have to grasp. Video games are a great medium to immerse consumers not to just a brand, but to a spatial presence that can be perceived as real through the experience and sensations a player can feel in the mediated environment. Hanazuki is more than just a brand where you can see two kids playing; it’s a world of wonder, dreams, and opportunities just waiting to be grasped. To play the game, click here.
Madigan, Jamie. The Psychology of Immersion in Video Games. 2010, psychologyofgames.com.
Madigan, Jamie. Self-Perception Theory and Marketing Through Avatars. 2012, psychologyofgames.com
Jennifer “Narz” Vargas is CEO/Founder at Girl Gamer Vogue and Lead Video Game Columnist and Tech Editor at KnickerBocker Ledger.