Robert Iger, President of Disney, recently said that the web is replacing children's TV. “In the years ahead, broadband on the computer will be the primary source of entertainment for kids,” he said. “It’s just as important to them as the TV set now.”
While behavior patterns are always shifting, online gaming allows for a more engaging relationship. As a parent, the computer has clearly become an important part of my kids' entertainment choice. But I don't expect it to replace TV, but to enhance the value of the experience.
The NYT article talks about the rise in casual gaming and points to the new games coming out of Nick. All these games are dependent on the relationship to the TV show. In order to be like Dora or Pokemon, you must first have a relationship with the TV character. Casual gaming allows its audience to go beyond the one way relationship with the TV character to becoming more interactive. For its audience, I believe it leads to a stronger and more valuable connection. As mentioned by the article, it allows for more advertising tie-ins and promotion back to the TV. And done right, that is with a sense of who its audience is and how they relate to their brands, it is done with a sense of restraint. There is no need to kill the golden goose.
Disney has successfully used casual gaming as well. One does not just watch Hannah Montanah; my daughter has the Wii game to sing like her, the dvd and cds to watch and listen to, and the outfits (including blonde hair) to be like her. The gaming element doesn't replace watching the show, it merely enhances the enjoyment of the experience. And as the TV and the computer find there way into the same room, this younger demographic has learned to easily multitask among the different platforms; playing online, watching TV, and interacting with others.
As adults, we also have found interest in casual gaming. Just look at the success of Scrabulous on Facebook. And ask yourself, have you played brickbreaker on your Blackberry - what's your high score? To our kids, online gaming is a natural component to the TV brand.