Pulp Fiction effect: what unites drones, QR codes, board games and the Middle Ages


John Travolta, protagonist of Pulp Fiction Source: LA NACION

One of the most influential films in the history of cinema is now more than a quarter of a century old. Pulp Fiction, by Quentin Tarantino, was released in mid-1994. Over the years it became a legend and there are critics who put it on a par with Star Wars, or some of Steven Spielberg’s tanks, in the ranking of movie icons of pop culture. Although it did not raise as much as the George Lucas saga, it is considered a hinge that profoundly impacted the way of making films of the generations of directors that followed.

But Pulp Fiction promoted another change of magnitude: it meant the acting “resurrection” of John Travolta, who after two hits in the late 70s (Saturday Night Fever Y Grease) entered a dark stage in his film career. The role of Vincent Vega brought him back to stardom and contracts of more than ten million dollars per film.

What does this story have to do with the dynamics of change in 2020? The first to make a connection in this regard was popularizer and strategist Mark Pollard, author of Strategy in your words, who on Twitter alluded to the similarity between Travolta’s trajectory and QR codes: they started with everything at the time and it seemed that they ate the field and then entered a plateau, in which many predicted their final failure. But the pandemic and the contactless economy arrived, a magical fuel that once again accelerated the machinery of the QR in a short time.

“One could think of a? Pulp Fiction Effect ‘that can be seen in countless technologies and social trends,” explains Argentine creative Carlos Pérez, director of the BBDO agency, who weeks ago came up with this label and who has been collecting examples of this particular dynamic of change, from Zoom cases to training platforms online, going through the drone industry.

In this 2020 there are trends that were launched and accelerated: the most obvious thing is the digital avenue in general (telework, remote education, telemedicine) but also the fact occurs in renewable fuels and in other areas. In another field there are multi-band caroms, typical of complex systems, which promote unpredictable (non-trend) changes. Those who enroll in the Effect Pulp Fiction they are closer to the first type: they were in a kind of hibernation and the pandemic made them hyper-relevant.

There is a curiosity that links QR codes with Pulp Fiction: They were created in 1994, the year the film was released. They arose from an initiative of the Japanese company Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota. “QR” is for quick response: quick response in English. At the time they were presented as an evolution of the barcode and became very popular in Japan. A few years later it was predicted that they would invade all spheres of our daily lives, but that did not happen … until this year, in which we find ourselves reading the menu of a bar or paying for a product through this shortcut, which resurfaced as a ideal solution for these times.

On October 2, the magazine Fast Company published an article titled “How Covid-19 Helped the Troubled Drone Industry Take Flight”. Years ago, the industry was one of the “hottest” trends in Silicon Valley. But many of the startups that were launched did not find the return to the business, they fell in their price or directly disappeared. Last year, the segment grew 39%, a number that seems good, but for the parameters of startups emerging markets was a failure: between 2018 and 2017 it had grown by 140%.

However, the pandemic caused many large companies to increase the priority of their programs with drones: the lower mobility of people, the rise of the delivery trade and the need to minimize physical contact made drones in 2020 starring in their own and shining “moment Pulp Fiction“.

“One can find this kind of trajectory in countless social changes; the? Pulp Fiction-Travolta ‘exceeds the technology map, “says Pérez.

Last week there was an interesting conversation on social media about the “boom of medieval historians.” Memories of the plague and of great historical pandemics, fear of contagion, extreme uncertainty, dark stages, and for himself who can are vectors that bring a “déjà vu” closer to this phase. Medieval history, a branch often left in the background in this discipline, suddenly broke into the media with historians of this stage who enjoy their quarter of an hour of fame.

Pérez brings to mind another social trend, leveraged in technology, which is also going through its time Pulp Fiction: that of different types of games. “Among Us”, the world’s bomb gamer In 2020, it is not a new game: it existed since 2018. Only that in its first two years of life it added 200 daily players and during the quarantine it reached peaks of half a million participants: it grew as much as Travolta’s cachet after the 1994 hinge. “Among us” offers short games, in which a group of players in a spaceship must discover who the saboteurs are.

Adapted board games

But this market is going through another “P effectulp Fiction“, which came from an unusual place: traditional board games that leveraged technology to grow during the pandemic through new platforms, influencers and hybrid dynamics. The investment firm Andreessen-Horowits published a report days ago, signed by Jonathan Lai and Andrew Chen, who accounts for this phenomenon.

The examples accumulate. Dungeons & Dragons, the most famous of role-playing games, launched in 1976, has been growing at double digits in the last five years and the rise increased during the pandemic to reach 40 million players globally. Here was a previous “pop effect” that accelerated its increase: the series Stranger Things where the protagonists are fans of D&D.

The table games market, according to Lai and Chen, moves 12,000 million dollars a year and grows at 9%. The number is set to skyrocket for four reasons: interest in watching live games, user-generated content, new audio-based experiences, and online communities.

The trend reached chess, with the number of players completing games doubling in 2020 online. At the beginning of their forties, very charismatic grandmasters became influencers of the science game with phenomenal success. Hikaru Nakamura got half a million fans to follow her matches live against League Of Legends and Fortnite champions, while FIDE master Alexandra Botez amassed more than 320,000 viewers. The total hours of attention for chess games on the Twitch platform totaled 36 million so far this year 2020, according to data from Andreessen Horowitz.

In April, an Argentine tweeter posted a message that went viral: “It took a GLOBAL PANDEMIC for the real estate agency to agree to give me the CBU to deposit the rent.” The effects Pulp Fiction“They are everywhere.

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