What’s Red And Smells Like Blue Paint?

This is a simple marketing (and also game design) tactic: by presenting a riddle you can grab people’s attention. Chances are that you are reading this sentence mainly because you saw the title of this post and wondered what the answer is. This is about presenting a riddle. This tactic is about asking questions instead of giving answers right away. Riddles can be used in marketing: by asking the audience whether they want to know the secret of something is a fine way to generate interest.

(Of course balance is needed)

Lost tv series asks much more questions than it presents answers. The first season was awesome, but after that people started to get tired of not getting any further with things: more and more questions appeared. (I still watch the series by the way) So, like everything in life, balance is needed.

In game design this same system can be used: instead of telling user a story, you can let show a mystery that reveals slowly… (or perhaps turns into a bigger mystery at some point).

They say that curiosity killed the cat, but we humans don’t really care. We are curious creatures. We want to see mysteries – and also answers to them at some point.

And like the marketing courses suggest: give people what they want.

(Oh, almost forgot. The answer is: “red paint”.)

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Also, you can hint about the possible answer or several possible answers of a question.
    That way, the “Reader” would ponder upon the question or dilema. And have something to think about even after he finished reading/playing your game/book/movie etc.

  2. Interesting that you mention Lost.
    I was one of those who gave up on the series after the end of the 2nd season, but I’ve just started renting all the series and watching them back to back and it’s actually a lot more watchable.

    So I guess the answer there is to also consider the pace of posing questions to offering answers.


  3. Another useful tip would be: Know the answer before asking the question.

    It may sound stupid, but remember Matrix? They left many items opened which they tried to solve on Matrix 2 and 3… And on those it became painfully obvious that they were making things up as they go.

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