The world of marketing through the lens of games, isn’t as simple as referring to any marketing venture as Advergaming. There are varied marketing options when it comes to game incorporation, each with their own perfect case scenario and user in mind.
Along with the various forms of gamification marketing, there are numerous terms used within the development and live campaign stages that may not be well known to the masses, yet could be of great use for any future campaign prospects.
Below is a list of a handful of terms that could save you both time and confusion.
An advergame is an online video game that promotes a particular brand, product, or marketing message by integrating it into the game template, created expressly for promotional purposes. Advergames are usually interactive Flash, HTML5 or mobile app games designed purely for short-term interaction. Often a brand will pay a developer to make a game that aligns with an upcoming campaign. As such they are often simplistic game templates, designed to hold user attention momentarily.
Advergames are often commissioned to support other media, not replace them. The idea being that the more interaction with the property through the form of the game the stronger it leads to better associations.
Transmedia is the practice of taking a media property and extending it into a different medium. An approach towards convergent culture which seeks to use various media to convey a story.
An example of Transmedia could be, an AR game designed to promote a movie, A program that has been birthed out of preexisting merchandise.
Transmedia's best use is in customer monetisation, engagement and retention.
Brandification is the in-game sponsorship of a game template rather than the creation of a unique game based on a brand. Brandification is a (largely discredited) attempt to bring television-style advertising to different scale games.
An example of Brandification could be branded virtual goods e.g. Farmers Insurance had a promotional good that protected people’s crops in Farmville, resulting in the Farmers Insurance page gaining over 2 million Facebook fans in 24 hours.
The Four Lenses of Game Making
The Four Lenses of Game Making is a quadrant graph system that categorises games and game makers according to a Frame Axis and a Fantasy Axis. It is intended to replace the more traditional gameplay-vs-story critical model that has proven inadequate to describe video games.
The system asks whether the game is designed for emergent or experience play, and whether the intent is to deliver a rich sense of role or a more formally apparent set of rules. The resulting quadrants are Tetrism, Narrativism, Simulationism and Behaviourism.
Waterfall is a software project management method by which a project is developed in a series of stages of:
It is a widely-hated process of working within the context of most Triple A games, however within the Gamification world, the games are both digestible and designed with marketing purposes in mind, making the methodical project layout a consistent and desirable method for both the developers and the clients involved.
The same reason Waterfall Development is enticing for gamification developers, is often the same reasons why it is despised by other forms of game developers, as it treats the project at hand as a set of certainties and development as essentially an act of translation. The reality of most game projects is that they are often trying to discover a game dynamic which works, which is an inherently sloppy and experimental process. As such most developers prefer to work in an agile fashion.
However most contracts between developers and publishers are formulated in a quasi-waterfall fashion, mandating milestones such as game design documents and deliverables such as assets or functionality on a timetable. The reason they do it this way is that waterfall tends to give the illusion of certainty and is the easiest method to explain at the executive level. The reality of working this way, however, doesn't always align with the expectation laid.
‘Agile’ is a catch-all term which encompasses several modern methods of managing software development projects. All software development is inherently filled with uncertainties, which is why more traditional ‘Waterfall’ management tends to fail on a broad scale. Agile methods embrace uncertainty and treats learning as a part of the process of creating software.
Each method is based around the idea of building software iteratively, separating it up into small deliverable parts and working on tight timeframes (usually 2-4 week cycles), and eschews trying to create grand game design documents at the start of the project.
Most modern studios now use some form of agile management, however most publishing contracts are still framed with waterfall planning in mind. Gamification developers with their mostly preexisting game template libraries, often find that Agile Development has the reverse effect on their development timelines.
Scrum is an agile management technique that works to keep development moving through a sprint by making decisions quickly. Scrum as a method features a scrum master whose responsibility is to maintain the process, break deadlocks and protect the team from disruption. This role is usually filled by a producer. Scrum also makes use of stand-up meetings, which occur every day and involve everyone on the team quickly telling everyone else what they are working on, to promote efficient communication. Finally, scrum often uses a visual element called a burn-down chart to show progress toward completing the iteration.
Some elements of scrum are very popular among game development studios. In particular, stand-up meetings are widely used as a way for everyone to stay on the same page, as are some form of burn down chart (particularly when a milestone is looming).
Scrums are essential in Agile Development and depending on what systems are or are not in place, Waterfall Development will also require scrums.
Badly designed, unnecessarily complicated, or unwanted code and software.
Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. Gamification commonly employs game design elements to improve user engagement, organisational productivity, flow, learning, crowdsourcing, employee recruitment and evaluation, ease of use, physical exercise, marketing, and more.
Within the context of Marketing, it is when a brand uses a popular game template to promote a new product or service while offering attainable rewards that have proven to be used, valued and shared more so in comparison to generic handouts other traditional means of advertising often tag onto the end of their campaigns.
Gamification is a process, not a project.
A deliverable is any asset or feature that is required in order to fulfil the criteria of a milestone.
When in the development stage, especially within the frame of Waterfall Development, the customer will have an outlined timeline provide to them. Along the timeline will be specific milestones that the developer is expected to hit.
At the allotted milestone time period, the customer will be expectant for specific deliverables to be handed-over as a way of letting them know the developers are on schedule.
A widely used classing system, developed by Dr Richard Bartle, that helps game developers build and fix their game structure around the specific player types the developers hope to attract, for games both big and small.
What is now referred to as The Bartle player-type model, is comprised of 4 player-types which are placed across two axes of interest: 1. Does the player focus on the game world or on other players? 2. Does the player care most about acting or about interacting?
The player-types consist of:
- Killers, interested in acting and players
- Achievers, interested in acting and world
- Socialisers, interested in interacting and players
- Explorers, interested in interacting and world
Dr Bartle created a series of A/B answer questions, to determine which type a player tended to lean toward.
A ceremony is a celebratory declaration through visual, auditory and textual means that lets a player know that they have attained a significant win. Ceremonies matter, as a way to make the experience delightful for the player and help cathartically release some pent up stress from trying to win.
Ceremonies can also make a game feel thematic if they enhance the sense that the game has a voice. The ceremony communicates that the game has a human touch.
An intrinsic motivator is a personal desire to keep playing, mastering, exploring and otherwise enjoying the world of a game. Intrinsic motivators are rarely explicitly stated, but rather come as a result of the consequences of experimenting with and realising the depth of the game. Intrinsic motivators are thus often quiet delights, secret joys and urges to simply embrace the trauma of a game world, but they are rarely expressible as a single known quantity.
Players following intrinsic motivators are often culturally engaged with a game, feeling like they are participating in something worthwhile and uplifting. Often this is closely twinned with creative urges, and so intrinsically motivated players could be described as enchanted (positive engagement) rather than retained (negative engagement). They are also the most likely kind of player to evangelise your marketing story.
An extrinsic motivator is a possible known outcome which motivates play. Extrinsic motivators might be internal or external to the game (called rewards and prizes respectively) such as a particular power-up or cash. Extrinsic motivators can be strong drivers of play, but at the expense of creative problem solving. Players in search of extrinsic motivators will often engage in rote gameplay such as grinding, and so extrinsic motivators usually lead to retention (negative engagement) rather than enchantment (positive engagement).
Daily Active Users (DAU) is a common metric used within live gamification campaigns to measure how many players have interacted with the game per day. Tracking DAU over a period of time is often considered a more accurate way to determine whether a campaign has significant traction than MAU (monthly active users).
A deferred reward is designed to drive retention using a long resolution phase of a game loop. For example a player may earn a virtual reward, but is informed by a time meter that he must wait 24 hours to collect it. Some games then offer a time shortcut to collect the reward immediately in exchange for hard currency.
Part of the fun of any game is mastery, and repeating a lot of similar challenges helps achieve that. In racing games, for example, you run multiple races around the same track while you try to win, beat lap times and other players.
Grinding, on the other hand, is repetition with little variation or challenge over hundreds of identical encounters. It dispenses with mastery and simply insists that the player should keep cranking the same handle over and over.
Grinding is thus a form of busywork.
A CRC (campaign requirements checklist) is a set of points that need to be adhered to or at least acknowledged when constructing a gamification campaign. This is a document that is signed-off and referred to throughout the development process from both the developers and the customers involved.
Having an understanding of some or all of these terms, will help you to both communicate and comprehend the intricacies of a Gamified Marketing Campaign when partnering with a company such as Gamify on future initiatives.