The Power of Love Island Has Us Gaming
For the past four years – but increasingly so beginning in 2017 – the start of summer has been dominated by one phenomenon. Not the sun, not the unseasonably warm weather, not the search for the perfect summer song, but Love Island. The British TV series, which saw a revival in 2015 and has engulfed our viewing habits, our lexicon, and even the products we buy, is hard to avoid and easy to be sucked into. People are ‘mugging each other off’ and ‘gravitating’ towards personalised Love Island inspired water bottles and Pretty Little Thing outfits worn by the cast of hopefuls. Love Island has even extended its reach to video games – and this has far reaching consequences for the way we look at the forces of pop culture and gaming.
Source: @linnification via Twitter
The Love Island Game
The Love Island video game, developed by Fusebox Games, aims to amalgamate every feature of the series that viewers tune in for. The highs, the lows, the re-couplings, the dates, the challenges, and the dumpings. The gameplay is based on dating simulations or visual novels that are popular in Japan, whereby the game is largely text focused and depends on decisions made by the player. The game begins as you wait in the villa for the opposite sex, and are asked questions by the other girls/boys. Your answers to various questions help code your friendships and enemies in the villa and who you might be compatible to couple up with. The game is addictive and pretty soon players find themselves being able to purchase gem points, which allow you to do riskier things, such as instigate fights and kisses with your fellow islanders. The game is made to give the player the impression that they are in the Love Island villa and are attempting to find their perfect mate to try to win the £50,000 prize money. The game follows the days that contestants would find themselves in the villa, so players have to wait for the timer to expire before moving on to the next day. Ultimately, the game embodies the aspects of Love Island that attracted fans and helps keep audiences interested until the next series.
The Love Island Phenomenon
The Love Island phenomenon is an interesting one. Not unlike other social experiment shows, such as Big Brother, the show focuses on interactions between real people with one goal in mind. Ok, two goals: to find love and to win the prize money. 2017 saw a record number of people watching the show to the point that the 2018 version saw highbrow writers and journalists tuning in to give their analysis of the lightweight reality show. People love Love Island so much for a number of reasons. It allows people to follow the narrative daily and to fall in love and hate with a variety of people. It provides escapism and vicarious viewing. But it also gives us something to aim for. Most of the people are uber-confident, chiselled characters who exude so much that they provide an interesting role model. But they are all flawed in the way that we are, and are searching for something that in a lot of cases slips through their fingers. There is nothing more humanising and endearing than a beautiful person on TV being publicly rejected, as could happen to anyone.
Pop Culture in Gaming
The Love Island phenomenon needed to be bottled up urgently, as an eight-week period is all that avid viewers could get of their show. By turning the Love Island phenomenon into an interactive game, the show tapped into the theme that a lot of other similar reality style have also jumped onto: making a game out of pop culture. Connecting a game to pop culture makes gaming more accessible for the more casual gamer, while also appealing to the fanbase of the pop culture phenomenon. For Love Island, as well as the game, there is also the Love Island app, which provides daily content, fashion, and polls while the show is on. Wink Bingo have come up with a Love Island themed game for those who want to connect with friends over the show they lov. Fellow ITV show X Factor also has a series of games made based on its theme, including a video slot that takes themes from the show. The US version of Big Brother had a play along game, which allows players to see how they would fare in the famous house. Making a pop culture themed game allows people to engage further with a world they love watching and hearing about and allows them to live vicariously through.
Source: @Siann1997 via Twitter
Love Island isn’t the only game to appeal to casual gamers, to allow fans of pop culture to dip their toe into the world of gaming. Following a similarly visual novel mobile gameplay is the Kardashians game, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, developed by Glu Mobile. The game allows players to live as the most famous family do and gives a taste of the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Money can be used to purchase in-app bonuses, which allow you to live even grander. The Simpsons Tapped Out is another example of how a pop culture phenomenon attracted casual gamers. Many downloaded the game of coin collecting around Springfield due to the Simpson pedigree that was attached to the game. Connecting pop culture to gaming gives the show a new lease of life. Fellow Matt Groening creation Futurama also has its own app, and Fox cartoon cohorts Family Guy and American Dad have their own variations of video slot games. By using such a broad theme, a greater audience will be reached who might not normally play games.
The success of Love Island as both a TV show and as a connected game shows to both developers of games and the shows that creating a transmutable pop culture phenomenon can be a lucrative cross-platform enterprise. Most likely as other shows see how well Love Island has done, they will follow in their footsteps to create an all-encompassing experience to go alongside the pop culture phenomenon.
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