Where once ‘gaming’ as a hobby was considered the preserve of young, obsessive males, today’s reality is very different. The rise of social games on social networks and casual games enjoyed by all the family has changed the face of the gamer forever – and therefore
gaming. The average demographic of a Candy Crush player is 35 and female.
Now we see gaming extending into more concepts of play, as the digital and physical worlds collide. Disney for example, has been coming up with new ways to add an extra layer of interactivity between the games and the toys themselves through their AppMates range and upcoming Disney Infinity. Likewise, in 2012, Activision launched the ‘Skylanders’ series, which merges merchandise with the kids gaming experience. ‘Skylanders’ has been Activision’s biggest success story of 2012, garnering them over $1bn with over one hundred million of their toys sold in just 15 months. In the more classic gaming arena, gaming has been elevated beyond the level of hobby or mere entertainment as the competitive gaming scene is starting to get big, and brands are starting to notice and even sponsor their own events like the Intel Extreme Masters competition.
In some cases, top gamers across the world are becoming professional players, with annual earnings in excess of $250k, as they compete in global gaming series. And the rise of competitive gaming has also created a new scene around it – such as Shoutcasting – essentially eSports commentating, much like you would see in ‘Football’. Mike Lamond (Husky) is one of the most well-known commentators for popular game‘Starcraft 2’ on YouTube. With over 600 thousand subscribers and over 252 million video views, Husky’s channel is the number one stop for ‘Starcraft’ fans (11 million in Korea, over three million in US and Europe).
The big name games themselves are focused on developing their brands further, developing both availability through multiplatform apps and immersion by building the brand stories into new areas such as TV programmes and live experiences. Beyond the most literal definition of ‘gaming’ in the entertainment space, the notion of gamification is broadening the definition of entertainment, as activities not previously considered to be a source of entertainment have been transformed by the application of technologies and gaming techniques into an entertaining pastime. The ‘quantification’ of life, through apps such as Nike FuelBand, has for some people turned tracking heart rate into a competitive and ‘gamified’ life-tracking obsession.
Many genres are looking to gaming to improve and innovate. Cultural institutions look to the cues of gaming to revive appeal, designing and curating interactive exhibitions, whilst increasingly we are seeing the crossover of gaming and film making with successes such as ‘Conspiracy for Justice’.
The increasingly absorbing gaming worlds allow consumers to create alternative realities, to escape to a world where they can create and escape to whole new identities.
The partnership of TV and online media is also a beneficial tactic in which users can interact with TV shows via gamification techniques, generating greater engagement and provide access to a related community of viewers via social TV and incentivise viewing of programmes and advertisements.
Britain’s Got Talent’s latest free app for the 2013 series allowed viewers to vote directly, design their own buzzer, become a judge, take part in live polls, get access to additional content and finally connect with friends, the judges and anyone else involved on
Brands are already using gamification platforms or services that enhance consumers’ TV watching experience and provide rewards for participating. Brands can use gamification to engage consumers during commercials and to enhance a brand’s appeal among certain demographics. For example, to launch the new A-Class, Mercedes-Benz created an interactive TV campaign for the new A-Class that invited the audience to drive the story via Twitter.