Gamification is a relatively modern process that is steadily immersing itself in the rapid acceleration and advancement of modern technology. The principles behind gamification, stem from its ability to sell a product or brand more effectively using meta games to help involve customers on a more engrossing level.
These playful experiences, more commonly known as meta games, are used by gamers on the internet as well as on mobile phone devices. The meta games are designed to appeal to those who would not normally associate themselves with gaming formats and thus the greatest challenge is to make meta games universal within differing demographic groups. As already mentioned, the principles that lie at the heart of the gamification concept are concerned with selling a product and brand to its maximum potential and reaching a broad customer base.
Determining the success of a new product can prove problematic as there are a number of factors which could affect the performance of a brand or product. Consumers are faced with more choices than ever and this makes it harder to predict success. There are a number of strategies in place which can help short term interest in a product, such as creative advertising, but short term interest is not the priority for a new product. This is where gamification and meta games can help play a significant role in encouraging long term interest.
An underlying problem with predicting whether a product will succeed or fail, is largely down to an understanding of consumer reaction and behavior. By attempting to alter and understand consumer reaction and behavior, a product can begin to reap the benefits of long term interest whilst simultaneously reaching a whole new audience. The basic principles of gamification and meta games go a long way to help change consumer reaction and therefore encourage long-term interest with the success of a product. By incorporating both meta games and gamification, products can reach and have an effect on wide audiences. This is because meta games are, by nature, very engaging and if a game is related to a product it can help the product earn greater value in terms of its consumers. Once this is achieved through gamification it is likely a product will have a distinct advantage over its competitors.
Essentially the principles of gamification are based around the ability to help create and sustain a long-term relationship between the consumer in a product to help ensure the success of that product. This is achieved through the use of visually stimulating and engaging meta games which are designed to resonate and entice people outside of the traditional gaming sectors. Generating an acceptance of meta games beyond the usual gaming sectors is the pivotal factor in creating a successful gamification strategy. Once in place, the gamification process will help consumers associate with a product and develop a greater sense of loyalty towards it because of factors such as familiarity. Increased participation through the use of engaging and simple meta games can help boost a business or product in the future.
When we consider the evolution of technology and the accelerated trends of consumer habits, gamification has become a unique form of marketing which could only be applied in today’s world. In the past, the behavior of consumers changed through the use of advertising on television and on the radio. As effective as that strategy was, and still is in some cases, it does not have quite the same power over consumers as it used to, due to the saturation of advertising across multiple formats and the vast array of choices available to consumers. Gamification helps respond to this problem directly by attempting to appeal to all members of society through engaging meta games over the internet.
By physically engaging with meta games, consumers are actively getting involved and thus focusing their attention on the product and meta games in question. This form of gamification marketing can help directly affect consumer behavior in the same way advertising on television does. It helps draw attention towards a product or brand and therefore creates a lasting effect on the consumer and encourages long term interest. The principles of gamification are simple but strikingly effective as they aim to change consumer behavior and promote interest.
The Concept of Gamification
Gamification is a simple but highly effective idea that has begun to firmly establish itself in 2010 with the success of meta games such as Farmville. The basic concept behind gamification is the introduction of straightforward and engaging meta games into applications or websites which in turn help promote a product or brand. The key behind the concept is to make the meta games accessible and attractive to those unfamiliar to the traditional gaming demographic. Once this is achieved, all manner of consumers will actively engage in the meta games and product and therefore will create long term business interest. It is the active participation in gamification which helps promote business like no other form of marketing.
Like many other types of marketing, gamification seeks to work by altering and changing the behavior of the consumer. Television adverts have been doing this for decades now, but through the use of meta games and actual participation, the ability to change consumer behavior has allowed for unlimited opportunities. Through a number of clever concepts, gamification works by enticing consumers to behave in a certain way with regard to the product or brand the meta games are related to. By engaging consumers repeatedly, and thus on a long term basis, it helps increase product loyalty which in turn helps elevate the success of a product or brand.
The concept of gamification is to tap into the basic desires and needs of all consumers, impulses which tend to revolve around competition or the idea of status and achievement and in some cases even a form of self-expression. These desires and needs is something which is embodied in us all and is what makes gamification such a effective tool amongst the masses. As mentioned, the key to successful meta games is the ability to create gameplay that will appeal to those who do not typically play computer games on a regular basis. As a result the meta games require an ease and simplicity behind its basis, whilst still fulfilling its duty of entertainment, encouraging active participation and continued use over a long period of time. Meta games also have the distinct ability to provide for those basic needs of competition and status amongst friends and colleagues making gamification extremely resourceful as a marketing tool.
Perhaps the best way to circulate consumers usage meta games in order to focus attention on a particular product is through the use of statistics. Statistics are the ideal way to measure and quantify competition and status and the other basic desires already mentioned above. Without statistics, meta games can become instantly bland preventing any point in playing it. However with statistics there is always a score to beat and competition can be accurately weighed up between friends and colleagues. Gamification becomes hugely alluring to people because all manner of statistics can be recorded, enabling people to compete for achievements and status, thus drawing them to play repetitively until they have achieved their objectives. Meta games and gamification allow consumers to compete on a vast scale and receive the reputation that comes with that. For example, they could score enough points to be ranked first in the State or first in the US depending on the game being played.
Not only do these gamification aspects encourage consumers to play on numerous occasions, extra participation can be promoted through the use of purchasing an object within the game, taking a quiz or even answering questions. Ultimately through all these gamification means, products and brands can be marketed in a way unlike any other and the concept is totally original and can potentially reap huge profits. The video game industry is booming and at the moment it is estimated that in the US alone over 3 billion hours are dedicated to gaming. The gamification audience is already out there and by successfully implementing this concept, a product could easily expand globally. Farmville is a superb example of meta games and gamification reaching out to vast audiences including huge numbers of non gamers.
A Design Guide to Gamification
Before designing a successful gamification strategy there are a number of things that need to be understood, including the principles and the concept of gamification, in addition to the use of meta games. Of course case studies should be analyzed and assessed in order to gain an idea of what works in meta games and where to improve on existing ideas. However once these areas have been explored, there is still one key aspect which drives the whole process of gamification and determines its success when used for a product or brand. This is positioning yourself in the perspective of the consumer and understanding what motivates their behavior which will ultimately be the force that determines whether a gamification strategy is successful or not.
In order for a gamification strategy to alter and control consumer behavior, a number of factors must be considered and addressed during the design process. The main goal when designing meta games is engagement and continual involvement because this leads to long-term business success and consumer loyalty. Meta games that are engaging will keep consumers content and fuel their appetite to repeat the experience which is ultimately the aim achievement for any product or brand. Engagement also plays a significant role in helping alter consumer behavior as consumers will be exposed to the gamification and meta games over long periods of time. Considering behavioral change over time is also an important factor when designing a gamification strategy which is aiming to be engrossing.
There are a wide variety of factors that can help to make meta games captivating and effectively determine the success of the gamification process. When designing a strategy, these factors must be analyzed thoroughly, in order to devise meta games that meet the particular criteria. One of these factors is the entertainment value of meta games. If a product or brand is deemed to be mundane then incorporating an entertaining gamification process can help reverse that opinion bringing fun and positive connotations towards it. If meta games lack entertainment value then the likelihood is that frequent gamers are unlikely to play and of course non gamers will inevitable pass upon the opportunity as well. One of the most important things to consider when designing the gamification process is the ability to appeal to the non gaming demographic. If meta games can appeal to this section of non gamers, then they can open up an enormous consumer base for the product, but in order to appeal meta games have to be entertaining.
Another element that must be considered for meta games is competition. Competition is a basic human desire that can be tapped into through the use of games and the hierarchy of unlocking rewards, depending on your progress. When competition is present within meta games, it helps draw consumers back because they will be drawn by the competition. This is particularly true if the competition can be held between friends, family and colleagues. Competition can be easily incorporated into gamification design because it relies on the simple process of collecting and presenting statistics. When the statistics of different players are presented next to one another they can be compared and ranked and thus competition is initiated.
With competition, there must be reward because without reward there is no incentive to better yourself or your opponents. Often meta games make use of trophies which are permanently attached to a players profile and act as a record of achievement. With the trophies symbolising a gamers ability to perform it cements a sense of recognition they arguably play for, rewarding them in social status and drawing non gamers the opportunity to show off. The pursuit of accomplishing rewards or certain objectives is often a long-term process and is designed to lengthen the period of time consumers interact with meta games. Once these rewards have been reached, a consumer will earn their social status and a new reward can be designed for the gamification process.
A visually arresting experience is also a crucial factor when designing meta games as this is the most effective method of capturing the users imagination in addition to being a technique which will not only succeed in heightening gamer sensibility but also draw consumers towards future products whether they are gamers or non gamers.
When designing a gamification strategy, the main goals are long-term engagement through the use of rewards, competitions and entertainment. With long term engagement a product can then aim to control consumer behavior and become successful.
The Main Themes Of Gamification
Gamification has emerged as an extremely powerful marketing tool enabled to attract long term consumer interest and encourage participation in a product. Through the use of meta games, gamification allows products and brands to appeal, reach and pave exposure to vast audiences. However, the success of meta games is reliant on the application of a appropriate gamification strategy that will help create publicity. A successful gamification strategy depends on a number of factors that must be present within meta games. When creating a strategy, it is vital to recognize that the success of gamification and meta games lies in its ability to encourage prolonged participation from consumers. Consumers who consistently play meta games over lengthy periods of time are the key to a successful gamification strategy and this extended engagement can be promoted through a series of central themes.
There are a plethora of main themes that when placed together into an appropriate gamification strategy can help lead to success. Meta games should cater for all these themes, in order to draw consumers back and create extensive business opportunities. When working together, particular themes help drive participation and engagement for consumers, to unprecedented levels making it even more significant when implementing them into meta games. One of the most important themes to consider for the gamification process is the encouragement of consumer action whilst using the meta games. Users should be provided with a number of incentives to actively participate and perform actions whilst playing meta games. This could be achieved through the encouragement of filling out questionnaires participating in quizzes, users could even be persuaded to purchase items, rate something or even watch a linked video. All these aspects require user interaction and if these actions are provided with incentive and rewards then the gamification strategy will promote continual activity.
Similarly, the use of rewards in gamification and meta games is also an important theme. For example, once users have achieved certain goals, rewards will become a product of the gaming experience, keeping users enthralled and eagerly anticipating the next time they use meta games to earn all possible rewards. These rewards can be trophies, or prizes constructed to highlight a players attributes and thus their status within the meta games. Also linked to the theme of rewards is the theme of points and point scoring in meta games. Collecting points works on a number of differing levels. Firstly, people have to work for points and the more points a person gains, the more credibility they will have. A gamification strategy should entail points in order to achieve rewards and so the two feed each other and encourage prolonged use of the meta games by consumers. When used in gamification, points are particularly effective for a number of reasons. Points can count towards status indicators, they can be used to buy virtual items within meta games and as already mentioned they can build up rewards. In gamification, points help actively encourage consumers to engage in meta games over long periods of time as they have many reasons to come back and earn more points.
Two themes which are also intrinsically linked to meta games are competitions and leader boards. Gamification and meta games will not be successful without these themes.
Leader boards promote prolonged participation because users can compare their performance to that of their friends, family and colleagues.
Being at the top of a leader board, helps create social status, whilst being in an inadequate position on a leader board creates the opposite effect, encouraging people to try harder.
Leader boards can often be determined through the calculation of statistics and points.
Competitions work on a similar basis except with competitions, those who win can be rewarded with a prize at the end. Once again this incentive works to draw people in to play for the foreseeable future and improve on their performance so they can win future competitions.
A final theme to consider with gamification and meta games is the option of individuality. Though the use of customizable avatars, users can express their individuality whilst playing the game.
Once these themes come together in a coherent and easy format, a gamification strategy is likely to be successful.