The Contribution of Branded Games for the LEGO Ninjago Brand Narrative

Sjors Martens, Laura Cañete Sanz, Teresa De La Hera

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

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This study will examine how branded games in the LEGO Ninjago
franchise communicate the brand narrative through their
mechanical, semiotic and referential design. Digital games as
communicative tools facilitate a new paradigm of marketing focusing on experience creation through integrated marketing
communication plans. The LEGO brand creates highly successful
games that communicate the brand effectively. To explore the
possibilities and counteract the simplistic use of branded games,
this study introduces an innovative framework to formally analyze
branded games and their communication of a brand narrative
through mechanical, semiotic and referential layers. This
framework introduces formal game design to advertising studies,
while dragging game studies into branded ecosystems. Using the
framework, we analyze LEGO Ninjago the Movie – The
Videogame, to identify how this paid digital game expands the
Ninjago universe and fulfills specific marketing purposes oriented
to LEGO toy sets. Our analysis shows that on a mechanical and
semiotic layer, the game presents a standalone experience catering
to the universe of the Ninjago movie and the values of the Ninjago
brand narrative. However, by framing the whole game as LEGO
– in its materiality and interactable objects – the LEGO brand
narrative of creative construction informs the act of play. The
referential design in these games makes use of playful disruption
of rules to instill additive comprehension in the player related to
purchasable sets and content.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLa Contribución de los Juegos de Marca a la Narrativa de Marca de LEGO Ninjago
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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