Want to Be a Gamer? Scion Is Here to Help

In Latest Branded Entertainment Play Toyota Brand Teams With Kongregate to Teach Players to Become Developers

By Beth Snyder Bulik
Published: October 16, 2008

YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- A hip young brand has to get in the game -- video gaming, that is. And this week, Toyota's hip young auto brand Scion added video-game development to its branded-entertainment portfolio.

Working with the gamer site Kongregate, Scion has agreed to sponsor Kongregate's new "Labs" section to help newbie and aspiring game developers create their own video game.

'Dude' demographic
Working with the gamer site Kongregate, Scion has agreed to sponsor Kongregate's new "Labs" section to help newbie and aspiring game developers create their own video game.

Scion's sponsorship will last eight weeks and features eight progressive tutorials, or "shootorials," as they're dubbed, because the game being dissected and re-created is a shooter game. Named simply "Shoot!" the game lets a user control a rocket moving sideways across the screen, firing on alien space ships.

The basic game is specifically targeted at beginners who want to create video games.

Education Toy
"Tutorial zero started with 'Here's how you download Flash,'" said Mr. Uniacke, who plans to go through the series with his 11-year-old son. "It shows you step by step how to do it. We're basically giving them a car that they can tear apart, reassemble and customize."

In fact, many of the seasoned players on Kongregate commented in posts and forums that the game is "boring," apparently not realizing that it is a simplified game meant to teach. Other commenters, though, understood that and gave props to Kongregate and Scion for helping to broaden the community, as well as newbies themselves offering thanks.

Along with the tutorials, Scion will also offer a toolbox of "Scion-inspired" graphics, and a music mixer to add jams to the game. The promotion includes a contest, "Driving Creativity," that gives cash prizes to the top three games created around the "Shoot!" tools.

Scion has been on the leading edge of branded entertainment since its debut in 2003. Today, Scion has an entire entertainment "culture," including Scion Broadband for videos and films from up-and-coming directors, Scion A/V for on-the-rise music and Scion Events to sponsor and run such in-person events as concerts, art shows, racing and basketball tournaments. Scion has "Scion City" inside the online interactive virtual word "Second Life" and runs "Club Scion," a disco-ish hangout for pre-teens on Whyville.com.

"Scion has been on the forward edge of the complete digital-marketing space," said Rick Mathieson, a marketing expert and author whose latest, but not yet released, book includes a chapter about Scion's efforts. "Look at music bands and filmmakers and how they've gotten to them -- lots of filmmakers now go to Scion first for financing -- why not tap into video game creators too?"

Time for a pit stop
And while Scion remains a "cool" brand among young consumers, its declining sales, due in part to the lagging economy but also a delayed changeup of car models, could use a marketing boost. Its agency of record, Attik, San Francisco, this past summer launched a traditional ad campaign, "United by Individuality," created from a gathering of hundreds of Scion owners in the Nevada desert.

For Kongregate, the Scion sponsorship means a more compelling and sticky gaming site. It has some 4.5 million unique users, but only 2,000 to 3,000 of them are creating games and uploading games. So the "Labs" concept had been in the works as a way to get site users more deeply involved in the gaming experience, Mr. Uniacke said. Kongregate will continue Labs even after the Scion deal expires, possibly with other sponsors.