Whimsey Night: The Night Circus
Here, friends, is an interesting curiosity.
It’s called The Night Circus, and it is a game made by the creators of Echo Bazaar. At its most basic, most perverse, The Night Circus is a work designed to publicize a debut novel by Erin Morgenstern, and as such has the cynical, permanent Twitter and Facebook integration designed to make any hardcore gamer shake their head and cry.
But let’s not focus on that. Let’s focus on how lovely it is. At its heart, The Night Circus is a story about visiting a circus in the late 1800’s, not a real circus but one overwhelmed with whimsey, magic, and loveliness. As games go it’s decidedly facebook, but there’s writing aplenty here, and it’s not something you have to pay active attention to. I’m certainly paying it no mind in the background, going there for the occasional break and beautiful language.
As an aspiring author myself, though, it’s interesting because it makes me think of how things can be sold. Here is this lovely little game, with nothing to it but its words, and it’s both informed me of a soon-to-be-released novel and made me legitimately interested in it. It’s both a brilliant example of viral marketing and also of interdisciplinarity; here they are, selling a book to gamers. I’ve seen posts about the game on a couple blogs, and now you’re seeing one here.
Books have, traditionally, been marketed to book people. This makes sense, but it is utterly limiting. Rather than appeal to the traditional crowd, it seems like Random House (the publisher behind the book) wants to cast a net at gamers. It’s a fascinating marketing strategy, one I think that publishers need to follow in a world where many media are dying. No one buys books, but if I can play a game that throws me into the novel’s world I’m much more likely to give it a go. It’s a brilliant bit of marketing.
It’s also a lovely game. I recommend giving it a go, because it’s quite beautiful. Here is where you’ll find it.