Let The Games Begin!

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What I love most about this industry is the pace at which it moves. A Google search for gamification returns over 3 million results however Microsoft Word thinks I’m trying to spell ramification. It’s an extremely hot topic at the moment (just have a look at this Google Trends graph) and there’s no doubt in my mind that ‘the year(s) of the mobile’ is over, only to be replaced by ‘the year of gamification’!


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The best thing about my little brother’s birthday (he’s 11 years old) is that I get to play with his new toys. It takes me back to my childhood where the majority of my time revolved around playing games and chasing girls. Essentially nothing’s changed. What we’ve known for a long time is that games address a few basic yet powerful human motivators including achievement, status, and reward. Therefore by optimising towards these, people will spend hours earning points, levelling up and unlocking rewards. In our industry, the concept revolves around applying the things that make games interesting to non-game activities…and it’s going to be big.

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Some of the earliest and most successful pioneers were in the field of social gaming, with Zynga (developer of Farmville and Cityville) now worth around $9bn  and owning close to 40% of the social gaming market. Today, however, gamification is being used everywhere often without you even knowing it. Think of being given achievement badges in Foursquare, rewarded by Coles/Woolworths through loyalty points (are these even worth anything?) or being given status with a Platinum Amex card. At the end of the day, the rules are simple – use game mechanics to get consumers more engaged with your brand.

And how better to engage consumers than through their mobile phones. To me this will be a key driver for the gamification category over the next 12 months. GPS functionality, augmented reality and real opponents put you in the driver’s seat and is essentially the gamification of real life. If you haven’t already, check out the Holden Cruze Car Chase – an amazing case study which saw 25,000+ Sydneysiders truly engage across 2 weeks.

But the best thing about gamification is that it doesn’t need to be big and bold and you don’t need to spend a lot of money. When signing up for a LinkedIn account last year I couldn’t help but notice the progress bar which wouldn’t total 100% until I handed pretty much all my personal details over – a tremendous achievement.

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Once we’ve embraced the concept the challenge will be to identify how and why this strategy ties into our clients business and marketing goals. It may not be relevant for every brand, however, for a lot of us, gamification will present a better experience to consumers which in turn means more brand engagement and better results for our clients.

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