Greetings, fellow marketers. It’s me. Benny. I come bearing a simple request from the Game Developers Conference. Play deliberately. In your daily life, realize when you are playing something. Then, pay attention to why and how you’re playing what you’re playing.
It can be anything. Texas Hold ‘em with your buddies. Monopoly with the family. Angry Birds on your phone. Call of Duty: Black Ops against your brother from Toadsuck, AR. Just play and pay attention to why and how you are playing. It’s really that simple. The why and how of this simple request are just a click away. If you’d love to read, mosey on down.
It seems that we as marketers have finally started to pay attention to games as something other than a place for digital out-of-home. There seems to have been a collective realization that our consumers are playing more and more games for longer and longer time periods. A realization that when people are playing games, they’re utterly engaged. Unable or unwilling to divide attention for those (oh so prevalent) marketing messages.
And so – obviously – we want a piece of that action. The result of this newfound attention has been something called “gamification.” It’s a very new, very amorphous term. But, for most marketers, it seems to represent a way to easily bring the mojo that makes games to engaging to our marketing programs.
And that’s awesome. There are a ton of companies out there already who are doing great work democratizing the lowest hanging fruits of gaming mojo: The points and the leaderboards and the achievements and the avatar customization and the like. Fantastic. I love ‘em. But I also recognize that they’re really superficial. Shallow. Only scratching the surface.
Gamers know this too. That’s why at GDC this year, game developers were screaming bloody murder about the term “gamification” and the future it seems to be leading the industry towards. It’s not that these low hanging fruits are BAD. It’s just that there’s so much more vibrancy underneath the hood of gaming. It feels like an amazing opportunity squandered.
A surefire way to begin to understand this is to pay attention to the power of games. Play deliberately from time to time. Make note of the mechanics, mojo, and special sauce the game designer is employing to entice engagement. Note your feelings and engagement – and how different mechanics subtly influence them. When you’re addicted to finding lost cows – think about WHY you’re addicted.
It sounds simple enough – but it can actually be quite hard. After all, games are fun and entertaining. It’s a similar situation to losing 10 minutes browsing Facebook when you’re trying to get something done for a Facebook project But – as difficult as it can be – we must play deliberately in order to better understand games and how they do what they do.
Maybe just log the time under “research.” I won’t tell!