Engagement. The important word that advertisers and marketers put at the top of their (our) PowerPoint pyramids, as the holy Grail that crowns a successful campaign. Video games provide an extraordinary degree of engagement, which explains the increasing amount of attention that marketers have paid to game design principles & mechanics and how they could help improve how we conduct marketing and advertising campaigns.
A few hard facts first:
- An estimated 3 billion hours are spent on gaming every week.
- By age 21, the average American will have spent more than 10,000 hours playing video games.
- World of Warcraft has been played for 5.93 million years.
What is it about games that enables this extraordinary degree of engagement?
Jane McGonigal makes the case (in her TED Talk in 2010) that games inspire people the way real life does not, by providing a mixture of urgency, optimism, productivity, social connection and meaningfulness.
Games answer all the layers of the hierarchy of needs:
Games aren't designed with needs in mind. You don't need games to survive. Games are designed with engagement in mind: self-improvement, sense of enabling, expression of beliefs, etc.
Some services already understand this philosophy. For instance, the financial management tool Mint.com presents your relationship with money in a playful, challenge-packed, objectives-driven way. You handle your wallet the way you handle a game: maximizing points, getting visual feedback, improving your performance, achieving your financial goals.
4 critical attributes of video games design:
No matter what your perspective (marketer, advertiser, brander, drug addict), applying the golden rules of game design can help create better campaigns, programs and initiatives. After all, "Engagement" only becomes a marketing objective if you don't know how to apply it.