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GaminG for Good
➔➔While social games are essentially 3-D virtual
worlds where you create your own online avatar, design your own space, make friends and have fun, another more charitable dimension has recently opened up.
➔➔SmallWorlds.com, New Zealand’s most popular
social game, raised $38,000 through the sales of a special cape for their game character to wear to show their support, with all proceeds donated to the International Red Cross to support their relief work towards the Christchurch earthquakes and Japan tsunami. This was the first time ‘virtual goods’ were used for fundraising in New Zealand. “We have a strong online community, and when these disasters struck we asked ourselves what we could collectively do to help,” says SmallWorlds co-founder Mitch Olson.
➔➔Pedigree and Colenso also devised the
“You don’t need to be a ‘gamer’ in the traditional sense to relate to games or gaming principles. Games are universal, everyone enjoys a play.”
Gaming—whether online, on screen, on social media, or on mobile devices—is growing rapidly. And where there are humans, there will eventually be brands trying to communicate with them. Amar Trivedi plugs in to see how marketers, agencies and businesses are making the most of this burgeoning realm.
ames have come a long way since atari, pinball and Pacman. The global gaming business is now worth more than the music and movie industries combined. and, as marketers and agencies discover fun sells, game concepts are increasingly being used to engage users. For many, the word gaming instantly conjures up images of battle-torn cities with agile snipers, predator drones, raging robotrons, fire-spewing dragons, magical castles with secret tunnels and spotty teenage boys with limited social skills. Entertainment is still by far the biggest chunk of the industry and as console games like Halo and social games like Farmville continue to grow in popularity, game developers are taking a leaf out of Hollywood’s book and creating messaging platforms within games for brand marketers/sponsors to insert communications. But rather than place advertising inside games, a more exciting transformation is that the communications industries themselves see gaming as increasingly relevant, especially as consumers continue to embrace digital technology and social media. And as for the spotty teenage boy thing, that myth has been busted, as shown by a recent study show the levels of engagement that can be gained if it’s executed well. Gladeye, a digital creative agency based in Auckland, has clocked up over 60,000 hours of cumulative gameplay, with Tarver Graham, director of creative and strategy, saying its MixandMatcher for House of Travel could be “New Zealand’s most successful advergame by an order of magnitude”. Installed by 80,000 users, the online app generated approximately 50,000 Facebook posts and comments, and over half a million app posts. It also won several awards including the Yahoo!Xtra Digital Strategy Award in 2010. One of its more recent projects was ‘Gimme-5’ for GrabOne, a bespoke, branded card-trading game with a real-time peer-to-peer marketplace on Facebook. “Players loved the rewards, and the game dramatically boosted engagement on the Facebook wall and referrals to the transactional website,” says Campbell Brown, marketing director at GrabOne. While game development teams obviously have tech expertise, Knightly believes they now also understand market dynamics, content creation, build-up and call to action, experience engineering and reverse psychology, which is essential for brands hoping to engage users online. TBWA\ and Tequila\ recently embraced the digital zeitgeist in an effort to achieve the seemingly impossible: get its audience interested in a relationship with a life insurance company while ‘the end’ was still a long way away. And they claim to have succeeded with an interactive game called ‘Life’s Choice’ that allowed people to explore how lifestyle choices related to happiness and health. Users were able to compare scores, share their achievement badges, download their life-plans as screensavers and post results across social networks. It was also backed up by a full complement of online display advertising utilising real-time polling and, with the added incentive of a $15,000 prize, the site got 10,000 visits in just two weeks, with average time on site of 11 minutes and close to half the traffic coming from social media.
hugely successful Doggelganger ‘Human to Canine Matching Software’ as part of its Pedigree Adoption Drive, which raised $160,000 for homeless dogs and also won the Digital Grand Prix at Spikes Asia Awards in Singapore.
in New Zealand showing the average age of gamers was 33, and 47 percent of them were women. As Samantha Ramlu, strategy and planning director at Method Studios, which has won a few plaudits for its Bell for Kids online game, says: “You don’t need to be a ‘gamer’ in the traditional sense to relate to games or gaming principles. Games are universal, everyone enjoys a play.” Stephen Knightly, managing director of game consultancy InGame, chair of the NZ Game Developers Association and director of innovation and technology-centric Pursuit PR, is a keen gamer and a champion of gamification (the application of game-based mechanics, models and concepts to build systems within non-gaming environments). And while there’s no doubt the industry is gaining traction in New Zealand (see sidebar on page 36), he says the misconception that making games is insanely costly when some projects cost less than TVCs or even major DM campaigns could be holding the sector back. While he says it’s great to see gamification getting attention, he believes marketers, many of whom are simplistically copying elements like badges, points and leaderboards and adding them
to campaigns, need to do their homework before jumping in headfirst. “One of the traps that I see gamification people falling into is that they forget the audience,” he says. “Different people play games for different reasons and in lots of different ways. If you put lots of points on something that’s going to be great for hyper-competitive people. If you put on sharing and gift giving that’s going to be great for social people but it’s not going to be great for someone who wants to beat someone else and kill someone else.” Andrew Malcolm from mobile app developers Moa Creative, agrees and says it’s all about aiming games and apps at the right people: the socialisers need built-in social media functionality, the ‘achievers’ can be targeted with games/vouchers for a reward scheme that might upgrade their status, and ‘explorers’ are often looking for the latest game, which means it’s not just about adding features, it’s also about using PR to promote it.
Social gaming, the games played online and often inside Facebook or other social platforms, is the fastest growing entertainment sector in the world and already the 2nd most popular activity on social networks after posting updates. Farmville by Zynga is the world’s largest social game and SmallWorlds, which was co-founded by Kiwi Mitch Olson and now has more than seven million players worldwide, is Australasia’s largest social game. To tap into the excitement around RWC, McDonald’s and Spitfire launched a Facebook game called Flick Rugby, a modern version of the classic school game where the aim is to get a coin across the table in three flicks or less. Players had to navigate
Advergaming, the creation of a game by a corporate as branded content, is becoming much more common place and some of the campaigns seen recently
hazards including Kiwiburgers, beetroot, Frozen L&P spills, Kiwi Pavs and Kiwi Brekkie McMuffins and it clocked up 53,118 minutes of game play and added more than 6,000 fans to McDonald’s Facebook page. “Games like Flick Rugby are an ideal way to engage fans with topical campaigns that not only drive awareness and brand loyalty but also drive foot traffic in store with intelligent integration of product and prizes,” says Spitfire’s chief executive Colin Proebstel. It’s easy to see gaming as a niche; another potential channel to engage existing and potential customers. But many successful modern businesses use gaming mechanics in their business models. Knightly says any industrial process or marketing model, whether it be education, software development, elections, social media platforms, traffic signalling systems or even parking lots, can be innovatively gamified. And the big opportunity for game creators and marketers lies in the gamification of systems, he says. Many sale websites, such as grabaseat, TradeMe or any of the daily deal sites, as well as companies like Powershop, which allows users to buy power online and share their powersaving performance, tap into aspects of human psychology to make consumers feel like they’re winning. And with the availability of social media, when they win—or find something they like—they often tend to share it.
34 January/February 2012
Location, location, location
With the advent and uptake of powerful mobile devices, location-based gaming means smartphones can act as a locator/game controller. A nifty example of location-based gaming that some of New Zealand’s top brands have signed up for is Capture The Flag, a group-mobile photosharing game app which is a territorial twist on location-based social gameplay seen in services like Foursquare. “Mobile internet and smart phones make a whole new kind of gaming possible,” says Edward Talbot, who co-founded the photosharing app Snapr in 2009 with Rowan Wernham. “Play happens in the real world and can be another layer to your everyday life.” Luigi Cappel, sales and marketing manager of GeoSmart, which created the browser-based promotion Lost in a Box for The Edge to increase listeners and engagement on its website, says its huge success two years in a row “just shows that people love the treasure hunt concept”. GeoSmart was also closely involved with building and supporting Air New Zealand’s ‘All Blacks’ Campervans as part of the Crazy About Rugby campaign to promote tourism around RWC2011. A multi-platform application modelled on The Amazing Race, it used GPS tracking, location-based visualisation and user customisation and allowed game players to geotag their photos, blog, comment on the go and, of course, have fun.
➔➔The punters are crying out for games of all
kinds and New Zealand’s local game development industry is getting its share of the pie. According to a New Zealand Game Developers Association survey of 21 studios, it grew by 46 percent this year and created more than 100 jobs in the 12 months to September 2011 on the back of smartphone and online gaming growth. “New Zealand games studios are export businesses, employing highly skilled technical and creative staff, creating original game ideas and increasingly retaining that intellectual property in New Zealand,” says NZGDA chair Stephen Knightly.
is increasingly being used in an experiential sense. One of the best examples was Volkswagen’s The Fun Theory, which created musical stairs that worked as piano keys as you stepped on them. It was driven by a simple and powerful thought: fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Rather than getting a coupon from the back of a bus ticket, McDonald’s Pick n’ Play Digital billboard in Europe, which used the geo-location service in viewers’ smartphones to enter them into a 30 second game of Pong in real-time using their touchscreen to control the paddle, handed out a free digital coupon. Closer to home, Instant Kiwi and Mango created a massive Scratchie Bus and toured it around the country, while Mountain Dew and Colenso created a giant 600-square-foot “skateable” pinball machine in the Henderson Valley, complete with 40 foot backboards, sensors, flippers, and lights.
Pimp my reality
Another noticeable trend is the merging of the real with the virtual. Second Life, a 3D simulation of the world that now has more than 1200 real companies on board. And augmented reality (AR), which overlays data (for example audio, video, graphic or GPS data) on the real world through a smartphone or computer, is also being used by a range of brands and media outlets, like Vodafone’s large-scale AR app to celebrate its sponsorship of the Vodafone NZ Music Awards and APN’s impressive TimeOut AR app. New technology means there are almost limitless possibilities for brands to get involved. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect, which uses MotionGesture Sensors, Voice Recognition Technology and 3D modelling capacity, sold ten million units in 60 days, which, according to Guinness World Records, makes it the fastest selling electronic device ever. Almost immediately after its launch, people became inspired by the technology. Game developers, entertainment brands, hobbyists and academics began to develop exciting new ways to use Kinect in areas Microsoft had never planned on. “Kinect has not only broken new retail records and redefined how games can be played, it’s also given parents and educators a new tool for education”, says Xbox New Zealand’s Steven Blackburn. “Through partnerships with the likes of Sesame Workshop, National Geographic and Disney, Xbox 360 Kinect has developed playful learning experiences that encourage entirely new ways to learn and bring families together in the process.” And such technology is also helping to bring brands and consumers together in new and more engaging ways.
➔➔Knightly says 99 percent of games developed
in New Zealand were designed for international markets and exported. “Digital distribution has made it easier to sell our games directly to global audiences. Without a publisher or middleman the margins are higher and the profits stay in New Zealand,” he says.
The digital realm has given rise to a raft of more creative and engaging promotional approaches, as evidenced by the simple, and hugely successful, Fish for Prizes promotion for Shell/Z. Kicked off last year, it recently returned for a second round giving those who bought $20 worth of fuel a code to enter online. Concepted and designed by JWT and built by HeyDay!, it was a prime example of a brand that made the participation as rewarding as the prizes and, after more than two million entries were received, it was named as a finalist of the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards. A number of brands here and abroad are also starting to utilise YouTube’s interactive functionality with video-based content, such as Kiwibank and Ogilvy’s Operation Easyswitch and Saatchi & Saatchi’s integrated “Get What It Takes” recruitment campaign for NZ Army that included a multi-level sharpshooter game on the OfficialNZArmy channel and ended up becoming the most watched branded or sponsor channel on YouTube after its launch. It’s not just happening online, however. Gaming
➔➔In the past three years, 73 percent of studios
had produced an iPhone game and 42 percent had produced online browser-based games. Meanwhile, 35 percent had developed Android games and 35 percent made downloadable PC games, while less than a third created console games. “Online, smartphone and indie games may not have the advertising budgets of large console games, but they’re the fastest growing segments of the games business.”
➔➔The industry employs the equivalent of 359
full-time people. Local studios expect to create 99 new jobs in the coming year, 40 percent of these for programmers, 40 percent for artists and 20 percent for managers.
36 January/February 2012
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