Every large economic opportunity comes accompanied with a core theme, a mantra around which people can rally. These themes then generate a vernacular that takes on a life of its own and serves to fire the engines of inspiration in generations of entrepreneurs, investors, and practitioners. Recent examples of such themes are: Web 2.0, Cloud Computing, Location-Based Services, Marketing Services, Software-As-Service, E-commerce—and scores of others.
There’s a new theme that might eclipse all of these – Gameization. It has the potential to be a fundamental trend because it cuts across businesses and because it is as much about process as it is about products. Ignore it at your own peril.
In fact, Gameization will in my view be the single biggest boon to Marketing in this era.
The reason is simple: Marketing is all about engagement and Gameization is the best channel by which to create engaging experiences.
To understand this, I urge you to think about Games at their most basic level—and then read on:
Games are ubiquitous and universally enjoyed. For some, the competitive aspect is exciting, for others the challenge to excel is the heady part. For a good number of people, games induce a sense of accomplishment, as one endeavors to “move the ball forward” and to achieve small results that when aggregated create big outcomes. For others, in games, they find real meaning and identity. In short, games are fun, heady, challenging, interesting, and they evoke strong emotions.
The “Gaming Metaphor” therefore is an oft-overlooked and oft-undervalued approach to business and to technology.
What is a game? In her riveting book “Reality is Broken,” Jane McGonigal outlines 4 defining characteristics of games in general; a game has:
1. A goal
3. A Feedback System
4. Voluntary Participation
It’s the combination of these factors that motivates, enthralls, and makes meaning for billions of people. Surely, therefore, there must be some important lessons for the business of technology as well.
Businesses worldwide are looking to engage current and future customers in ways they never have before. The rise of what I call “marketing-by-Facebook” is proof of this trend. Internally, companies are looking for ways to tap into the creative energies of employees and partners. Governments increasingly want to involve their citizenry in (some) decisions. Even educational institutions are morphing curricula based on the notion of engagement.
If you aren’t thinking Gameization then you aren’t thinking Engagement, in which case, pack up and go home!
(Romi Mahajan is WW Director of Sales and Strategy for the Digital Marketing & Search team at Microsoft Corporation. In this role, Mahajan focuses on growing the Digital Marketing business for the company as well as helping define Microsoft’s increasing role in Internet Business. Before this stint at Microsoft, Mahajan was Founder- President of KKM Group, an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors. Prior to founding KKM, Mahajan was Chief Marketing Officer of Ascentium Corporation, a leading digital agency with 96M in Sales in 2008.)