The multi-purpose game
Aug 26, 2009
There will always be a population that loves games. Whether 4 years old or 40, it can satisfy the need for competition and spawn creativity. We have a few Centerliners that enjoy late night battles of World of Warcraft or a good 6 hour stretch at Guitar Hero.
But what about gaming for the mainstream, or even in the classroom? And what sort of marketing or business results can you achieve from a game? There’s a growing trend of using games for marketing purposes, as seen not only from a recent influx of serious games (define) we’re working on, but also in several articles I’ve come across lately.
This AdAge article tells us that “it’s not just changing demographics fueling marketers’ interest. Gaming allows them to give consumers something entertaining—something they find valuable and actually want to engage in.” This goes along with providing content consumers want to view instead of being so focused on what the brand can get out of it. It’s a really powerful way to connect with customers if you can teach them about a product or concept without them realizing they’re learning.
One example from our own portfolio is a serious game called INNOV8 which we developed for IBM to teach the concept of Business Process Management. The game spread to over 1,800 universities across the country and was found to have an 80% higher retention rate with students that played the game than students that didn’t (you can learn more about it here.)
The Chicago Tribune article Social Games: The Industry’s new wild west talks about mixing gaming with social media. There’s definitely a natural viral component to games with players wanting to share their scores and compete with others. Take the unavoidable trend in online community these days (read Twitter and Facebook) and combine it with the competitive nature of games and inclination to invite friends to a challenge and it’s bound to generate buzz. Competitive nature + online community is a natural fit.
Posting leader boards to display and compare scores is an obvious way to encourage competition and incentivize players but what other aspect do people want to share with their friends? This article brings up great shots, moves and replays, hardest-fought matches, most achievements accomplished and prizes won as other interesting information to track to even further increase engagement.
Yet another (and more atypical) use of a game I saw a little while ago is New York Time’s columnist Nicholas Kristof plans to accompany his new book on women’s rights with a free social networking game to educate activists. “We just saw how people can use games as this entry point, make this emotional connection, learn a little about the complexities and truly become engaged in an issue,“ Kristof stated about choosing a game to get his message out. There are some messages that are best communicated through participation and social causes seems to fit into that category with their need to really touch the audience emotionally.
A well designed and thought out game can provide great value to your audience, whether it’s for the classroom, corporate training or social causes. It’s offers a rare combination of being an effective marketing tool that can benefit both the brand and the audience at the same.