We all like playing games and games are important in our life as they help us to achieve a lot, psychologically. There has been a lot written about why we like to play games but I couldn’t agree more to the reasons Dr. Scott Rigby pointed out based on his research. As per his research the first reason why we play games is competence – our need to feel successful, the desire to know that we are growing in our knowledge and our accomplishments. The second is relatedness – we like to feel that we matter to others and we also like to feel that we are making a significant contribution to the society. The last one is autonomy – our desire to feel independent, a desire to have a control over our actions. Since, in the virtual world these things are easy to achieve, we tend to resort to gaming and more importantly enjoy it. And these games keep us healthy, mentally.
In fact video games are so efficient in fulfilling our psychological needs that it has become one of the most seductive activities for us. A game has clear goals, it shows a player’s progression and rewards the player immediately and consistently, all the more reason for our brain to be hooked up to it. Most of the experiences are crafted in such a way that our engagement levels are very high.
Now, although a bit late, marketers have realized the intensity and importance of this platform and trying to use it for what they are best at; marketing. Welcome to world of gamification. Gamification describes the use of game mechanics, such as challenges, achievements and rewards to redirect consumer behaviors in non-gaming contexts such as retail or education (edutainment) or healthcare. For example; an online newspaper might offer coins/badges as rewards to people who read that newspaper, participate in polls and discussions. The reader with the most coins/badges is given a reward like a free full year subscription of the newspaper. In this way the newspaper is trying modify behaviors of its readers.
TV channels, online retailers, airlines, education providers have all jumped the gun on this. The current games are not only boring, they have trivial challenges and offer low rewards and hence the purpose is not served. But this platform is still in a nascent stage, so there is a lot more to come. As more is done in this field, newer and more interesting games would come, which would reward not only the users but the marketers as well.
Mirk (Sahil Bansal)