Game Time: How Play Helps Content Work Harder
Checking out Philadelphia’s newly expanded convention center recently (I also cover the meetings industry), I happened upon a Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series event in full swing. Aside from my surprise that the Yu-Gi-Oh! marketing machine was still running (my kids moved on long ago, but judging from the throng of joyfully awkward teenagers and costume-wearing adults at the gathering, many others have not), the event provided keen first-hand insight into the power of gaming.
The buzz keeps growing for gamification as a marketing and communications strategy, both inside and outside the Yu-Gi-Oh! enterprise. Gartner Research forecasts that by 2015, “more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes.” Additionally, Gardner reports that “by 2014, a gamified service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon, and more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.”
Marketing departments are investing heavily in gamification, a market M2Research is forecasting will “reach $242 million by the end of 2012 and climb to $2.8 billion by 2016.”
Why do games—typically challenges involving points, badges, levels and leaderboards--work? “Because people are starved for some diversion,” stated an advertising and marketing executive attending the Business Marketing Association's international conference in Chicago this June, where gamification was a hot topic.
Sure—but games are also fun, which heightens their engagement potential. “Social games also have the potential of simplifying the communication of really complex things,” said another marketing executive at the BMA show. “And that can be a help to prospects, customers and employees.”
At global networking leader Cisco Systems, Dannette Veale, digital engagements and technology strategist, leverages gamification techniques in creating content-driven attendance-building, teaching and engagement strategies for events involving thousands of attendees in a mix of live and remote locations around the world.
“The idea of a multi-location distributed hybrid event is daunting especially when it covers 90+ global locations in over 400+ conference rooms with 24X7 broadcasting for three days straight,” writes Veale on her blog, talking about Cisco’s 2011 Global Sales Experience (GSX). “When the audience represents a blend of in-person attendees with virtual attendees creating a stimulating and motivating event experience is a challenge.”
Veale successfully answered this challenge by incorporating gamification with a rich mix of content driven digital engagements. For the latter, she used a combination of on-demand cable TV-style programming, video, role-playing and eLearning; for the gaming portion, she engaged attendees in unlocking and earning a series of badges, towards gaining eligibility for a prize drawing.
Subsequently applying the badge technique to Cisco’s recent Virtual Partner Summit, she again realized effective results, including increased attendance, interaction and content consumption.
“Gamification tactics can be VERY effective when applied in a thoughtful manner,” writes Veale. It’s game time--are you ready to take the field?
Jeff Heilman covers business, marketing, law and travel for a range of custom and trade publications. Also an award-winning photographer and copywriter, he ghostwrote Courageous Counsel, a book on the history of women general counsel in the Fortune 500, published September 2011.