Rise of the Gamer

No, I’m not talking about the Super Mario fiend or the World of Warcraft junkie. I’m talking about what unifies us as a human race. “Fun.” Humans desire fun.

By now, many of us have heard that we humans have an attention span of eight seconds (although, my pal Phil definitely has less). So, as marketers, how on earth will all of our hard-earned collective creative genius be recognized and appreciated by our customer?

Do you know how many hours and revisions we went through to get that shade of gray on the nav bar just right?! More than fifty.

One answer is out there. It’s games.

And the brands that can figure it out first will thrive in this new day in age. Creating portals and processes that tie in to gaming or character growth and recognition will create two invaluable assets:

  • Consumer experiences which are fun and memorable and which will create loyalty, curiosity, and advocacy.
  • Tons of actual human response data that can be consumed and analyzed creating an infinite testbed.

Not much more needs to be said about creating the “fun experiences.” I think we all get that finding a way to entertain and reward our customers will create strong affinities. I do, however, want to touch on how these data can then be used to create incredible outcomes.

First off, a game could be used to simulate shopping behavior.

Do you remember playing Sim City? All that time spent building a city, just to start over? Think of all that data which could be collected from that game. Why did the customer choose the hydro plant instead of the coal plant (maybe the customer is an environmental segment)? Why build a baseball field before a library (maybe the customer is a sports-minded segment)?  Did only 0.001% of gamers choose to build a harbor (maybe customers don’t see the value in a harbor)?

The data can be compiled to established segments and determine product value and simulate customer choice.

Second, humans can refine your analytical models.

Anyone else annoyed with Siri? Think about if Apple had invented some sort of trivia game, like “Who wants to be a millionaire.”  The list of questions could either be curated by Apple or solicited from the human playing the game. Responses would be fed back into the model and then refined over time.  At the very least, Apple should have developed some sort of feedback loop where humans could say “no, Siri, THIS is what I meant <next action>.” This feedback loop allows the algorithm to get better over time, because let’s face it, we humans are tough to figure out (and…as Boaty McBoatface helped remind us, hard to trust).

How about “voting.” Think about how Tinder has taken off (grown in popularity, I mean). It’s so easy to quickly discern taste. A game where players can quickly decide whether or not they like a certain feature could be invaluable for companies planning to release new products or enter new markets.

I’m barely scratching the surface here, guys, but the amount of value from the data we could source from interactions with games could be ENORMOUS.

10 years ago, social data was quite the rage. Companies needed to figure it out, and now, we see social marketing managers staffed within nearly every organization with even the smallest digital presence. I think we will see the same shift in gaming.

If I may be so bold, I predict that in the next 10 years, we will begin to see Gaming Strategist roles begin to pop up in organizations and agencies, as well.  These will be individuals who understand human attention, understand what creates curiosity, mystery, reward, and prowess. This individual will partner with Loyalty teams to create memorable and growth experiences, R&D teams to create market-ready products, and Sales/CRM teams to create razor-sharp targeting profiles.


Who’s already doing it?

Waze does it for driving conditions, and now Google is using them for their maps app. Foursquare was one of the first to begin giving users badges and status. Any type of “forum” nowadays gives the user’s rank alongside their comments. Rally Health and Novu are doing it for health tracking and living a better lifestyle. Mastercard has been creating games with a charity element attached to it.


Games are fun.

And games are data. The game (“fun”) component creates interest/loyalty and the side-effect of game-play data could lead to a fascinating behavioral analysis around how particular segments (or direct customers) make decisions.

Game on.  -Pete



Originally published on LinkedIn April 7, 2016.