Copywriting for the web. Game on!

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Video games can serve as a learning tool for web copywriting
Video games can serve as a learning tool for web copywriting

How thinking like a video game player can help today's digital copywriter create copy that improves reader engagement.

“We are no longer readers, we are explorers,” writes David Dylan Thomas in his insightful piece for web writers, Links as Language.

With traditional media, writers were limited to telling a linear story from start to finish. Enter the exceptions to every rule: flashback episodes in television, footnotes in books.

The Choose Your Own Adventure book series of the 1980s and 1990s pushed traditional user experience (UX) even further by allowing readers to select content at the risk that some plot lines may never be read – and that's perfectly okay. Choose Your Own Adventure unknowingly presented a gentle introduction for the way many of us primarily engage with content today.

Where else do users explore? In the fantasy world of video games. Like Mario in his navigation of underwater worlds, warp tubes, and dungeons, today's digital reader also relies on visual cues and text to continue engaging with content.

What video games can teach today's digital copywriter about writing for the web

1. Provide multiple navigation routes

Before your visitor even consciously begins consuming your content, past experience registers the many choices and options for navigation, such as top-level tabs, sidebars, and hyperlinks embedded in text. Not every visitor will arrive looking for the same information, but all deserve simple access.

Site analytics and offline customer research help you better understand your online customers' needs. It's your job as writers, developers, and designers to communicate the solutions to their needs and communicate a warp tube for direct access.

2. Empower your reader with inherent navigation devices

As he traveled, Mario came across certain tools – the Fire Flower, Invincibility Star – that made him more powerful. He could pick up these tools, or continue exploring without them. Your tools provide you with strong copy, and with embedded links within the text.

Let your readers know what information you think they might find important. And lead them to it.

3. The princess is in another castle

Don't be fooled into thinking that designers and developers are the sole architects of the digital experience. From SEO headlines and keywords to navigation prompts and embedded text links, carefully crafted language ensures that your reader stays engaged long enough to receive your brand's intended message.

And here's where the gamer and information consumer differ: while the gamer is motivated to find the princess in another castle, a digital reader becomes frustrated and closes the app, leaves the website, moves on when presented with a complicated UX.

Ready to take your copywriting to the next level?

Because of people's short attention spans, and because fewer words appear these days on website pages, your content must be clear, sharp, and rewarding. Follow these common practices from video games to help create a more powerful, more satisfying digital experience for your visitor.

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