According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, an estimated 67% of households in the United States play video games, and the average gamer plays for 8 hours every week. Video games are no longer a new phenomenon. They haven't been for quite some time. But they are now more than ever a staple part of how millions of people spend their free time. Whether you’re a serious World of Warcraft player or a Candy Crush addict, we all interact with digital games in some way.
Marketers can make use of the way games are integrated into our daily lives through a popular strategy called gamification - that is, applying game mechanics to non-game situations, such as advertising. Also referred to as "funware," a gamified experience may be digital or live but always has the goal of generating enthusiasm and guiding user behavior.
Why is gamification effective?
Games play into basic needs
People participate in gamified experiences for the same reason they play any game - the challenge is exciting, and the validation of gaining points or winning a prize feels good.
According to Scientific American, motivation can be divided into three categories: autonomy, value, and competence. Individuals feel more motivated when they feel in control, are working on a task they value, and feel capable of completing their goals and improving their skills.
Gamification hands the feeling of control or autonomy over to the user - no longer a passive viewer, the user can now direct their own experience, while still being guided enough that the desired message gets communicated.
The prospect of reward helps create a feeling of value in the activity, while levels and points validate users and make them feel both challenged and competent. All of these strategies can be found in both ordinary games and gamified marketing campaigns.
By using game strategies such as points, badges, levels, and leader-boards, you can keep your audience motivated, enthusiastic, and engaged with your message for longer.
Games are social
Multiplayer games have long captured the attention and enthusiasm of the gaming community, encouraging people to collaborate with each other in order to reach a goal or struggle together to defeat other teams. However, even single-player games can have a significant social component.
For example, video games may have leaderboards, or spaces where high-scorers are displayed so players can feel validated when they do well (or size up the competition!). Players may be able to challenge their friends or invite others to play.
Even live gamified experiences, such as the Samsung’s All Eyes On The S4 campaign, engage more people than just the people participating. The audience of bystanders also get the brand experience.
Games encourage ongoing engagement
After participating in a live game experience, people will remember, share, and discuss the event. If you’ve managed to stand out from the crowd through a unique gamified strategy, that statement will reverberate.
Within apps and websites, gamification helps retain users by encouraging them to keep playing and gain more points, rewards, or simply discover more information.
Gamification is big time
The trend is currently on the rise, as companies like Domino’s Pizza, Siemens, and IBM all utilize gamification to train employees, get feedback, and engage customers, but this is nothing new. Some may remember wasting away hours playing Cap'n Crunch's Crunchling Adventure back in 1999 only to find you needed more cereal.
There’s no doubt that the legitimacy of gamification has been established for all kinds of businesses. The questions is: how will you apply it to yours? Have you thought about how to make your marketing just a little more fun?