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What’s Your Favorite Game?

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What’s Your Favorite Game?
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I’ve played games my whole life and you probably have as well. My game memory starts with simple card games, playing Fish, Spades and the occasional 52-Pickup. At some point I graduated to Gin Rummy, but also enjoyed a variety of board games. As part of a family tradition, I learned how to play Backgammon, both in traditional old European and a more familiar American style.

When I think back on why these games were fun, it was about competition on the surface, but more importantly spending time with people I enjoyed. Relationships take shape in a different way when you play games, either in competition with one another or as teammates.

I missed most of the video game craze, preferring to spend my time outside. If  you played team or individual sports, you know that there are some pretty weighty life lessons to be learned through training and preparation to play a game. Most people watching the Olympics during the past month reveled in the moment of the race, while overlooking the commitment and persistence it took for the athlete to invest just to be able to stand at the start line. My personal love of endurance sports requires time and effort in orders of magnitudes greater to the actual time competing, so I understand patience and discipline.

I’m sharing this because Gamification has become a hotly contested element of Loyalty as well as Social Marketing. Simply because of the name itself, many people I come in contact with enter a conversation about Gamification as skeptics, convinced adding game mechanics is just another passing fad. I’m not naive and held my own measure of reserve towards game mechanics, but have come to realize that it may represent a missing link in our search for the optimal model to engage, delight, and build relationships with our customers.

I’ve been privilgeged to spend time with two brilliant game designers from Bagdeville, Steve Sims and Tony Ventrice. Collectively they have a history of creating games that are household names while working with EA Sports, Playdom, and Zynga. We’ve been spending time talking about the essential elements of human behavior and how the future of Loyalty Marketing will evolve to incorporate triggers of fundamental human needs and desires to engage customers in a natural way with our brands. Considering that reward cost can represent as much as 80% of the total marketing budget for a loyalty program, it is a mind-blowing thought that we could create ways to get the results we seek while dramatically reducing reward cost.

I’ll be sharing my latest thoughts on how game mechanics will play an increasingly important role in loyalty marketing at two events over the next month. Links to both events are shared just below here and you are  invited you to attend if you’re able.

NG Customer Experience – Miami, Florida – September 14, 2012

Badgeville Engage 2012 – Chicago, Illinois – September 27, 2012

As an added bonus, I’ve included an infographic on the subject of gamification for your enjoyment. It came to me courtesy of Engine Yard as we met up during the recent Badgeville Summit #Engage2012.

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Courtesy of: Engine Yard

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