In our article Gamification: Why it can work everywhere (posted 23 August 2013) we discussed how topical this concept is, both within PHD with the launch of Source, and within the advertising industry. We drew the conclusion that gamification is a great opportunity for companies and advertisers alike, to generate engagement or even to ascertain people’s skills in a test environment. Now three months on, we have decided to take a closer look at how some developers and advertisers have already successfully implemented gamification in their communications, placing game mechanics in a non-game context.
Why gamification can be so beneficial for a brand can be explained in one word: authenticity. Most of us flourish within games, show positive (and sometimes negative) traits that can easily be absorbed into the social ether and often generate positive feelings after the experience. Considering the increasing individualization of society, it is no surprise that the desire for self-realization often stands in contrast to increased workload and performance expectations. Meaning, time is increasingly becoming a rare commodity, especially when it comes to fun and enjoyment. Gamification is therefore a welcome addition to work and play, especially when the former is more prevalent than the latter.
Advertising has always favoured this type of communication, right back to the first free giveaway or competition offers advertised in the 1940s. Today, many target groups are addressed not only in private, but especially in the professional environment by company communications. Alongside the standard creative incentivizing, we are seeing an increased tendency towards more complex communications which encourage participation, gamifying the process of brand building and the consumer’s interaction with that brand. Nevertheless, the distinguishing feature of gamification tends to be playfulness, something which has been harnessed by the developers & brands we will discuss next.
One example of an app which has aimed to make the mundane a little more magical is called Lumosity which advertises exercises that are engineered to “train a variety of core cognitive functions,” such as remembering names after a first introduction, avoiding distractions, calculating figures in your head or learning new subjects quickly and accurately, to name a few. Lumosity training claims to improve the brain’s so-called executive functions, which are a key driver of everyday quality of life. A recent Stanford study revealed that an experimental group who played Lumosity games four times a week for 12 weeks “improved word finding, executive function and processing speed over the control group.” Since its launch, the San Francisco-based company has amassed nearly 40 million subscribers—at $14.95 (11€) a month, that’s a pretty big vote of confidence.
Another great example comes from Amnesty International NZ, who took the serious topic of freedom and the prevention of civil liberties to a new level when it launched http://www.trialbytimeline.org.nz/. ‘Trial by Timeline’ assesses, via the users Facebook page, how many laws that person would have broken if they lived in another, less free society and whilst it incorporates game ideas, it does not make light of the issue of civil liberties. For instance, the penalty for drinking or showing affection to a member of the opposite sex publically can land you in jail in over 15 countries across the world and the user is made fully aware of how lucky they are to live in a country like New Zealand. To see the full story, Amnesty International has pulled together this great video, explaining their project and its goal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXRvgwzWoSI
Finally, looking a more commercial proposition, ‘A Glass of Water’ campaign from Toyota can be seen as the ideal example of implementing gamification alongside a standard advertising campaign. The starting point was addressing the question of how Toyota could make motorists to travel in a more environmentally friendly way. Toyota was well aware that there are many useful tips and tricks on the subject but these are hardly ever implemented. Therefore, they opted to take a playful approach, using the idea of a glass of water, sitting on the dashboard of the car.
Now, as this experiment cannot be implemented in real life, Toyota decided to do it via a mobile app for the iPhone. Thanks to built-in motion sensors, Toyota simulated a full glass of water via the app, showing how much water the driver split while driving. The app then compared the drivers performance to other drivers, showed when the driver was at their worst (and best) during their drive, as well as providing extensive statistics on fuel consumption & emissions. And of course the result against friends and teammates was sharable via social media channels. Supported by print & online, as well as a live event in Stockholm where a glass of water was balanced on top of a real vehicle, Toyota had built a platform to talk about reducing fuel consumption, in a fun and interesting way.
All three examples have to managed include gaming concepts in a non-gaming environment, successfully engaging their target audiences and cutting through the clutter. Overall, gamification has enormous global ramifications for many organisations, though the next stage is to galvanise these mechanics into something that truly changes the game.