Customer Engagement, Gamification & Social Games – 1

In this edition of my blog, I initially intended to write about analytics and how it helps in making sense of huge amounts of customer data generated by these games. But analytics won’t be of much significance unless we understand the role of social games in online marketing and in general,”Gamification”. To set the context of our discussion, here are the important heuristics (as listed in my earlier blog posting – “Game Heuristics Part 2”) that we considered in our game design

  • Accessibility – Making the game easy to approach, understand and play.
  • Interruptability – Taking advantage of asynch, spontaneous and irregular play sessions.
  • Continuity – Providing continuous game world which attracts the player to come back.
  • Discovery – Providing new experiences, content and surprises.
  • Virality – Supporting viral growth in the player’s social network.
  • Narrativity – Creating in-game and off-game narratives that elicit curiosity.
  • Expression – Supporting self-discovery, customization and virtual spaces
  • Sharing – Collaborating with friends by gifting and boosting
  • Sociability – Supporting sociability among friends in the game dynamics
  • Competition – Promoting playful social competition with others.

The common thread that runs through all these design considerations is the extent to which they encourage “customer engagement”. All game features consistently try to focus on giving experiences, activities, competitions, contest & sharing opportunities that foster player engagement and encourage them to come back for more. These design heuristic considerations don’t just limit customer engagement to in-game activities but also spawn hooks that tie the customers even off the game.

Games move up or down the leader board with metrics such as DAUs ( “daily active users” ) & MAUs( “monthly active users” ).All games are designed to ramp up these two metrics and keep them high to be the leader of the pack. It’s a very powerful mechanism to retain fleeting attention span of today’s customers suffering with information overload. Whoever cracks this Holy Grail is considered a winner.

It’s important to note that some of these heuristics are not just relevant to online gaming. Since 2010, there is trend towards “Gamification”.Gamification as applied in context of non-game applications encourage adoption of best practices.Gamification if applied to mundane tasks such as completing survey, filing out tax forms encourages users to engage in desired behaviors. Some examples of gamification (copied from here )–

  • Employee training programs
  • Wellness and other personal activities
  • Financial services websites
  • Online and in-person shopping
  • Primary education
  • Extreme sports
  • Project management
  • Enhancing loyalty programmes
  • Social Networks
  • Surveys
  • Sustainability
  • Call Center
  • Market Research

Contd..