Marketing Game Mechanics

I used to be a “gamer”, but I thought that I should spend my time focused on my career and personal life and put the joystick down. It was a tough decision, I just didn’t have the time to play. But, now I have a reason to play again! Not sure that my wife will be happy, but with the success of game-based marketing strategies, marketers are taking their cues from the gaming world. “Life is a game” has reached a tipping point (some would say it has already jumped the shark) and with the proliferation of smart phones, we are playing whether we asked for it or not. We are “leveling up”, being rewarded, earning points, receiving badges, competing for seniority and becoming the master of our domain all at the hands of game mechanics. Now don't get me wrong, we have been "gaming" for centuries and some of the core mechanics of promotions, sales and marketing have always included game mechanics, but in this digital world they are playing an increasingly important role.

Sites like Bunchball and SCVNGR are driving customer participation strategies through gaming mechanics and participation is what builds lasting relationships, brand affinity, and brand loyalty. When you layer on an achievement layer that rewards people for engaging with your brand, you are giving people a fun, but powerful way to keep them interested, all while driving business value for your brand.

According to SCVNGR, a mobile gaming company that brings gaming to the real-world, there are at least fifty game dynamics available. They have even published a deck of cards that they give to each employee for memorization. According to others like Adrian Chan from Gravity7, SCVNGR’s list is flawed and doesn't help us truly understand what is a work here.  No matter what you think about gaming mechanics, they are here to stay and it is up to us as marketers to get a handle on them.

Here are few from SCVNGR's deck:

   * Achievements - Status - Virtual items
   * Blissful Productivity - Making basic tasks fun and rewarding
   * Communal Discovery - Working together as a virtual team like the MIT DARPA balloon challenge
   * Appointment dynamic - People must return at a specific time and perform an action to get a reward, like in Farmville
   * Countdown - The clock is ticking only 1 day left!
   * Pride - I have all ten badges!
   * Viral Game Mechanics - Farmvill makes you more successful by inviting your friends
   * Free Lunch - Group efforts bring greater rewards - like Groupon
   * Fun once, Fun always - a simple action like a check-in that brings a little joy into your heart each time you do it
   * Cascading Information Theory - bite size release of information keep people coming back to move forward

Seth Priebatsch from SCVNGR says:
“ By now, we're used to letting Facebook and Twitter capture our social lives on the web -- building a "social layer" on top of the real world. At TEDxBoston, Seth Priebatsch looks at the next layer in progress: the "game layer," a pervasive net of behavior-steering game dynamics that will reshape education and commerce.”

How can games change the world?

What do you think about the gaming layer and the mechanics behind it?