I keep seeing this everywhere and just had to comment. Gaming is certainly an established economy. Just look at the Halo 3 sales. Gaming is here to stay and now its infiltrating all walks of life. David Rosenberg gave a great presentation on this at last years PSFK conference.But there is something much larger going on in society in terms of Gaming. Gaming seems to be a shift in terms of the layers of how consumers connect with products, brands and experiences.
Look at the types of experiences with brand's products or experiences: Its either active engagement or passive.
Experience Types (i.e. beer drinking)
1) absolute experience = That beer really tastes like beer
2) Virtual experience = Simulated beer, not quite as fun
2) Passive experience = Experience is viewed or read about (watching those guys drink beer is torturous)
Clearly active experiences trump passive ones, and gaming is a new active experience often minus the product or actual experience.
While this is rough thinking, virtual worlds have established themselves for a myriad of reasons. One major strength being that they still allow the consumer to actively participate with the brand. Many consumers don't want the full-on experience. They want the filtered, more fun, less dirty version. So it seems we create games that engage consumers and connect without the actual purchase or post-product withdrawl. Give them access without any drawbacks. Access also allows for a greater audience potential. BMW is capturing generations of future drivers with this video games.
While games allow for massive participation, they can make even drab subjects fun. This is where we see gaming be introduced more and more.
Politics - Everyone has an opinion, but how can we crown a winner to the debating?
Dating -Love stinks for those trying to find it. How can we make it fun?
Avante -Garde Dating
Oceanic Exploration - Tracking sharks with gps getting you down on science? Lets make it a game
Networking - Forced to coherce with new peoples at corporate events? How can we switch it up?
Sports - Sports are the quintessential game, but not everyone can be a pro athlete. How have we engaged consumers to play along without stepping on the field?
PTI, Around the Horn, fantasy sports
These layers of connectivity allow for greater width of interactions, and let brands stretch themselves without changing who they are. Games are memorable engagement that creates emotional benefits for the brand/experience beyond its traditional function. Tracking sharks in sharkrunner feeds me emotional notes of accomplishment, competitiveness, escape, affiliation. Many of which aren't achievable just by passively watching a show.
Games provide brand access and participation, stretch the brand by providing benefits beyond the core product or experience, and can establish new economies for brand revenue (look at BK's King Games for the Xbox).
Is your brand ripe for a game?