A man in love is forcibly separated from the girl of his dreams by a richer, more powerful rival. He travels over field, mountain, sky, snow and fire to find her and tell her how he feels. Making a few friends and plenty of enemies along the way and overcoming overwhelming odds to track her down, he races down the corridor to her room, throws open the door to find it empty. Just then, a mushroom looks up at him and says, “Thank you! But our princess is in another castle.”
Don’t worry, it’s just a game. Just something the younger kids do to pass the time and waste their potential. Or is it?
Gaming has been getting a lot of attention with the introduction of Foursquare and other location-based, badge-awarding, and check-in apps. Almost unanimously listed among the emerging business and social trends of 2011 and beyond, gaming is making companies rich and people more social on the Internet, but how does that affect businesses outside of the video game market?
Gamification Theory Mechanics
Call it what you will, Gamification, Game Theory, Game Mechanics or whatever, businesses that are learning how to build engagement engines into their brand and business using theories taken from game design are gaining and retaining customers at alarming rates.
FarmVille has been installed 110 million times and has 32 million daily users. That’s 10 million more people that live on the whole continent of Australia. On the not-free side of things, World of Warcraft boasts over 12 million monthly subscribers, all paying the $15 monthly-subscription fee. I’ll let you do the math, and those are just the two top of mind examples! The gaming industry as a whole has been successful for years, outperforming Hollywood and book publishers in revenue each year. There must be something to what they have found.
Companies like Zynga (creators of FarmVille) and Playfish (creators of Hotel City and acquired by EA Games in 2009 for $300 million) are obvious ones cashing in on this trend, but we’ve been playing games all our lives. From the Ataris and Nintendos of our youth, to the SkyMiles Rewards and Weight Watchers points of adulthood, games engage us and call to certain aspects of our psyche that make them extremely powerful as engagement engines. The real question then, is how can a company tap into those psyches and use some game mechanics to increase customer participation and loyalty?
The Bartle Test
Based on a 1996 paper by Richard Bartle, a test was devised called The Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology that scores gamers within four personas. Even though originally meant for gamer analysis, the Bartle Test and its personas can give great insight into the motivations of your markets and how they react to stimuli. If you plan on incorporating games into your business, it’s important to know how your customers will react and what will motivate them to stick with you.
Let’s look at the four personas and see how they relate to your audience.
- Achievers: These are the gamers that will go to great lengths to obtain points, levels, equipment and other concrete measurements of gameplay success. They’ll usually go to great lengths to obtain the items simply for the prestige of having them. For these types of audiences, winning and losing aren’t so much the goal and are much more likely to engage for long periods of time to gain 100% completion ratings and bonus materials and information (i.e. completing their LinkedIn completion bar, or earning 250 extra MB of Dropbox storage by inviting everyone in their address book).
- Explorers: Explorers prefer to dig around the terrain to discover mapped areas and hidden places. These are the people that will spend hours looking for glitches or easter eggs hidden in games simply for the joy of knowing they discovered something. Very rarely do explorers like to follow a game’s timeline and like to look around at their own pace. These customers can greatly increase traffic to your website or stores if given the opportunity to discover hidden areas or items.
- Socializers: These are the social gamers who prefer to build relationships while they play and flock to games like Fable, World of Warcraft and Knights of the Old Republic. They gain their enjoyment from the game simply by interacting with other players and take full advantage of games that let them join tribes or guilds. Socializers will take opportunities to work together to complete a task for your brand or company. Mountain Dew used the socializers in their fan base in 2007 when they launched their DEWmacrazy campaign to let a select few of their Facebook fans create new flavors of their popular soda.
- Killers: Not really as violent as the name implies, Killers prefer the competitive aspects of games and thrive on winning and losing. These gamers love to create destruction and play such games as the Grand Theft Auto series and Halo. Killers can be die-hard advocates to public competition and will take to challenges with determination and drive. Killers love to be able to control their environment and can be useful assets when a strong brand stand needs to be made.
Just like in real life, no one person is all one particular persona, rather a combination and balance of a few, but knowing those divisions can help you create and drive campaigns to the right segments of your audience for maximum efficiency.
If you want to use the Bartle Test to analyze your market in a quiz, you can take it here or create your own based on the personas and your understanding of your audience.
Gaming is merging into our lives and into our businesses, blurring the lines of work and play. That can be a good thing, especially if you want to find way to help your customers focus on you in a world of limitless distraction. By using Game Theory and gamifying how you approach campaigns, you can really create a world where your customers can thrive.
But remember, it’s all just a game.Share Article