Wikipedia defines gamification as the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts. Wikipedia boasts a few games of their own based on clicking through webpages in a kind of online scavenger hunt. Video games have come a long way since the days of Pong and Atari. With advanced technology, beautifully designed and imaginative games are available on smartphones and tablets. Additionally, easy web access and the socialization of the Internet have made gaming a communal activity rather than a solitary one. Marketers have recognized these changes, and gaming is now an established way to engage and entice customers.
Who Wants to Play?
Everybody. Your nephew. Your mother. Senators. The Dalai Lama. Video games are no longer reserved for a frail, pale, lonely teenager hiding out in his parents’ basement and filling up on salty snacks. The average age of gamers is around 40, and women are nearly as likely to play as men. With expanding demographics like these, it comes as no surprise that major corporations like Nike have experimented with gamification marketing tactics.
Why Do We Play?
For fun, of course. But what is fun? Richard Bartle, a British professor, game researcher, and video game pioneer, classifies gamers into four categories. Players drift from one category to another but are primarily dedicated to one style. Achievers derive pleasure from amassing points, trophies, gold rings, and the thrill of hunting for and collecting treasure. Killers enjoy direct competition, striving for dominance of other players and clear win-loss situations. Socializers relish the gaming community, spending a lot of their time interacting and communicating with other players. Finally, explorers like to discover the depth and laws of the game world itself. They are information seekers.
Games provide a massive amount of user engagement. If you’re a gamer yourself, you’ve no doubt lost hours or even days in an attempt to complete just…one…more…level. This high level of engagement is potentially very valuable to marketers. Interactive gaming inherently provides the deep attention that traditional forms of advertising strive for. When attempting gamification, focus on creating an environment that intrigues players and rewards them for continued play.
If you’re attempting to add aspects of gaming to a project, consider your audience first and foremost. Are you reaching out to potential customers in a marketing campaign? What kinds of customers? Consider the demographics of your target audience and plan your game accordingly. Will your players be seeking a serene environment to explore and build? Will they be seeking an arena to do battle? Offer rewards and achievements, but don’t ignore the other aspects of the pleasures of gaming.
Gamification may sound like a buzzword and even a flash in the pan that can be ignored. On the contrary, gaming is on the rise and is here to stay. It will only become more integrated into our daily lives as technology improves. Take some time to study games and gamers, and you may have some creative marketing breakthroughs. Are you a gamer? What’s the longest amount of time you’ve spent playing a video game?
Matthew Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Adam. Matthew is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.