Gamification: More Than Just a Buzzword

Toby BarnesMarketing fads come and go on an almost monthly basis and at first the word ‘gamification’ sounds like it’s going to be one of them. It sounds like a word invented during a meeting by an unscrupulous agency rep who is struggling to keep a straight face in front of a gullible client. However, gamification is very real, is already being used successfully by brands, and is here to stay. Later this week AKQA‘s Product Strategy Director, Toby Barnes, will be speaking at the IP&TV World Forum (20-22 March), where he’ll explain how IPTV will create new opportunities for brands to use gamification to connect with consumers.  Full disclosure: VAN is a media partner with IP&TV World Forum.

Firstly, what is gamification? Barnes explains, “Gamification in its simplest form is the use of game design techniques in building experiences. It uses the kind of game thinking and game mechanics that we are familiar with using in pure game development, to enhance what we have often thought of as non-game contexts, like form filling, banking and health.”

So it’s often used to make slightly monotonous tasks bearable by tapping into the part of your brain that sparks off a sense of achievement. It’s the same phenomenon that transforms seemingly rational,  intelligent, adults into virtual farmers obsessed with tending to their crops.

New Opportunities 

Barnes believes connected TV will be the perfect platform for gamfication, “The technology that drives IPTV, enables systems to be built that offer people instant rewards, it provides mechanisms for play and personalisation that open up opportunities for developers, brands and publishers.  At AKQA, we have been working with brands on a range of products that span TV, mobile and web platforms, all of which often work with traditional TV programming for all sorts of spaces including the living room.”

Star Player

One of the clients AKQA have been working with on gamification is Heineken, who wanted to create something that added value to the Champions League experience. AKQA created Star Player, a second screen gaming app that players could use while watching Champions League games.

When a key event occurs in the live football match, the StarPlayer app triggers in real-time a ‘Match Moment’ and gamers are asked to choose from outcome options for which they’ll win points if they choose the correct outcome. Players can compete and share scores with their friends via Facebook and other players around the world in the ‘Interactive Champions League’.

Between 50 and 100,000 people played the game over the last four games of last year’s Champions League and AKQA’s research suggests that the game performed exceptionally well in terms of metrics, with 80% of users saying they’d recommend the game and an average dwell time of 53 minutes.

Barnes says that brands have been observing how gamification has been applied to other areas such as social media (most notably with GoWalla and Foursquare) and with traditional gaming, “Microsoft struck a chord with traditional gamers when they first rolled out achievement points. Users can earn a certain amount of gamerscore by completing specific tasks or actions in game. This simple addition had a profound impact on the space as nothing to date had motivated behaviour to play titles beyond one’s taste for specific genres, and it also created an aggregate and visible record of your gaming prowess. Brands took note of the trend and the loyalty that users developed in their pursuit of gamer score and bragging rights.”

Toby will be speaking at the IP&TV World Forum on Wednesday 21st March at 1720 and you can register for the event here.


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