The game is afoot


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In writing about “gamification” in the current issue of COLLOQUY (“Game On!”), my approach was playful (pun seriously intended) on what is serious business. I recognize that playing games implies frivolousness, and we all know that loyalty marketing is not a frivolous endeavor. But then again, neither is a game.

Gamification involves brands introducing online gaming elements to their websites—with such virtual challenges (for example, arranging the elements of a virtual room the way the obsessive-compulsive detective hero of the TV series Monk would do it), branded versions of classic games (think mahjongg tiles with products on them), and brand-related trivia contests. Consumers earn points or “XP” (experience) for gaming and winning, increasing engagement with the brand—which we know to be a good and profitable thing.

Comparing loyalty initiatives to games and deploying games to fuel loyalty are two bits of very serious business, for reasons outlined by John Tierney in “On a Hunt for What Makes Gamers Keep Gaming,” his New York Times article about research into the motivations behind gaming, both virtual and otherwise.

Tierney writes: “Players get steady rewards for little achievements as they amass points and progress to higher levels, with the challenges becoming harder as their skill increases.” Sound familiar, loyalty marketers? Best of all, players (and I’ll extend this to “customers”) “remain motivated to keep going until they succeed and experience what game researchers call ‘fiero.’ The term (Italian for ‘proud’) describes the feeling that makes a gamer lift both arms above the head in triumph.”

Gaming, Tierney says, has a history of teaching us about setting goals, solving problems, and subsequently achieving those goals. And becoming intensely involved while doing so. From that standpoint, introducing games becomes one way to fuel (and reward) avid customer engagement.

The article, by the way, also discusses gaming for the societal good. As an example: “[Fiero] is not a gesture you see often in classrooms or offices or on the street, but game designers like Dr. [Jane] McGonigal are working on that. She has designed Cruel 2 B Kind, a game in which players advance by being nice to strangers in public places, and which has been played in more than 50 cities on four continents.”

So, game on. What strategies have you employed to intensify brand interaction through fun and non-transactional achievement? What other strategies have succeeded in returning ROI and making you fiero? Let us hear about them.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bill Brohaugh
As managing editor, Bill Brohaugh is responsible for the day-to-day management and editorial for the COLLOQUY magazine and, the most comprehensive loyalty marketing web site in the world. In addition to writing many of the feature articles, Bill develops the editorial calendar, hires and manages outside writers and researchers and oversees print and online production. He also contributes to COLLOQUY's weekly email Market Alert and the COLLOQUYTalk series of white papers.


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