Games–the word brings different meanings to different people, from cards and gambling to board games on rainy days or smart phone apps with angry birds attacking defenseless pigs to massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) such as World of Warcraft. Games capture the attention of people across the globe, hooking them into an experience that requires skill, attention to detail, concentration and often strategy and high levels of thinking. People young and old and everything in between love games, and savvy marketers have learned how to apply game theory to gathering intelligence about target markets.
- It’s interactive–players do something and engage in a game.
- There is often an imaginary element to a game–players can transport themselves into another world, environment, character, space and time.
- It’s competitive–even if players only compete with themselves to get to another level or to receive a response that they want, there’s an element of achievement.
- Visual–using pictures, graphics and even animation to tell a story or further engage players–games are often highly visual.
- Rewards–games have an element of reward, and this can include anything from unveiling more information a player may want to receive to just attaining high scores and potentially comparing scores with friends and other players.
- Brain power–games require thought, whether they engage strategy, skill, knowledge or a complex combination of these elements, the brain is activated, and players get hooked.
What does this have to do with marketing? I’m glad you asked. Innovative marketers have learned that they can develop games, including all of the elements above, to collect valuable information about players–otherwise known as respondents in marketing lingo. In other words, market research in the form of a game, versus a bland survey, can be used to collect complex, valuable information about target markets. Research has demonstrated that players are far more likely to engage higher levels of thought and consider more complex elements to provide information collected if they are engaged in a game versus answering questions in traditional market research surveys. They are also more likely to return to the game and spending far longer periods of time providing enhanced information depending on the game’s structure and interactivity between multiple players.
Think about it. How can you use game theory to amplify your communications and marketing strategies? Hint: It can go far beyond market research and include customer service, e-commerce and multiple other systems in business. Get creative, and the applications are nearly limitless. It’s all bout engaging your target market more completely and collecting valuable information. Collective intelligence is the real name of the game.