I’ve been fascinated by the idea of “binge watching” for years now. I think it started becoming a thing when entire seasons (and series) of shows became available on DVD, and Netflix has taken it up a notch by releasing entire seasons of new shows all at once.
I don’t think I’ve ever technically binge-watched a show. That is, I haven’t spent most of a day watching back-to-back episodes of anything. Probably the closest I came was the latest season of Kimmy Schmidt, when I watched two episodes per meal while eating for a 4-day period.
Part of my fascination stems from the desire to create content that hooks people into desperately wanting to know what happens next. This has been on my radar as a writer for years. What makes a page-turner? Why do we stay up to the wee hours reading some books and not others?
Lately, of course, this fascination is tied to board games, particularly narrative board games where the story continues from game to game. Star Wars Imperial Assault, Pandemic Legacy, and T.I.M.E. Stories all have that “let’s play one more game” aspect to them.
So when Netflix recently revealed their “binge scale,” I considered it from a few different perspectives. Take a look:
The first layer of this scale is to consider it at face value. Most of these shows are hour-long shows, putting them on equal footing. What is it about thrillers that makes us want more? House of Cards is probably the most critically acclaimed of all of these shows, yet it’s near the bottom of the scale. Is it that thrillers and horror shows invoke emotional reactions from viewers? Do your binge tastes correlate with this scale?
The second layer is to see if this scale aligns with books. What type of book makes you want to keep reading the most? For me, I think it’s some combination of mystery and character-driven suspense. No matter the genre, if I care about the characters, I really want to know what happens to them next.
The third and final level is to look at this scale as it relates to narrative board games. I think a big part of it is the mystery–I always wanted to see what we were going to unlock or reveal the next time we played Pandemic Legacy or T.I.M.E. Stories. Also, we always wanted to do better next time. In fact, the times where we were satisfied and didn’t feel the immediate need to play again were those when we won handily. So perhaps narrow defeat is more binge-inducing than victory.
Also, with Imperial Assault and Pandemic Legacy, part of the appeal is that you get to carry new items, skills, and abilities into the next game. I’ve heard the same about the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. You get new stuff, and you’re eager to use that stuff.
What do you think? What types of shows, books, and games do you want to keep consuming? What is it about them that makes them binge-worthy?