Channeling the Appeal of Mascots into Dingy Digital Bingo Halls

How the power of iconography helped revive the bingo industry.

Bingo is a game that used to be thought of as nothing more than a retirement home staple. However, thanks to the power of mascot appeal – along with the wide distribution channel of the Internet – interest in the game was rejuvenated. The bingo industry recognizes the allure of this type of iconography, utilizing mascots with the aim of appealing to as broad a demographic as possible.

In his book Understanding Comics, cartoonist and comics theorist Scott McCloud states that the more detailed an image of a figure is, the less we project ourselves onto them. Conversely, the less details there are, the more readily we relate to them. This is because realistic-looking figures already have their identities established via the abundance of details which define their appearances. On the flipside, since cartoony images lack detail, our minds subconsciously fill in the visual gaps with our own features.

In other words, a sketch of Brad Pitt is a sketch of just that: Brad Pitt; whereas a simple drawing of a smiley face could be virtually any one of us.

Many cartoon illustrations aim for that perfect balance between realism and iconic abstraction. This is so that people will be able to see themselves in those characters without totally sacrificing the established identities of said characters.

As stated, it’s a technique that’s been used to full effect by the online bingo industry. Some online bingo providers even make use of multiple mascots to maximize audience identification. Gaming Realms’ bingogodz.com features a lineup of Greek god “re-representations” designed to cover as wide a range of characterizations as possible. There’s fat and jolly Zantos, dance floor star Afro-Dity, coffee-chugging Hypnozzz, and others. Furthermore, if the Bingogodz commercial is any indication, more amusing deities from other pantheons are soon to follow.

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Cartoon characters have always had that innate ability to reawaken the child in all of us. Basing on how they helped make bingo cool again, they’re evidently able to rejuvenate near-dead industries as well. 

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