Marketers who stay apprehensive from incorporating gaming or gamification in their overall strategy will only stand to lose
By Bhawna Sharma Ningthoujam
We have come a long way from the days when playing video games for a prolonged period (the definition varied from parent to parent) was a sure-shot way to earn a whack or two from our elders, followed by an edict to go out and play. Worse still, if you grew up in a Himachali household as I did, the whack was one with a chappal. Today, as the pandemic locked us out of our offices, school, and colleges and put a stop to our normal life, as we had known so far, many of us turned to video gaming, most of all, to stay sane. Many researchers have found that, on average, people who played video games for longer reported feeling better compared to those who barely played at all.
Games are also teaching real-world life skills to children. Let me give you an example of my daughter, who used to play Roblox with her friend. She and her friends got scammed a few times while exchanging pets in Adopt Me. After a bit of crying, she figured out how to avoid scammers. In fact, the other day, I paid a person in advance for a service, and when he didn’t turn up on the promised day, my daughter lightly admonished me. “You got scammed, Mommy. You should have paid him after he fixed the fan.,” she said.
Companies can’t ignore the attention that gaming is receiving, from helping us cope with the current times, teaching us life skills, and youngsters ditching jobs to become professional gamers. It is also equally important to know how we should engage with the emerging influencers- the gamers.
Not just the reach but engagement: We have been using social media to reach and connect with different audiences. Any brand today, big or small, including B2B, is present on social media platforms and running campaigns with social influencers. Gamers have emerged as a new set of influencers with massive reach and, most importantly, solid engagement with their followers. People sit and watch gamers play for hours with riveting attention. Additionally, unlike social media influencers, gamers’ audiences or followers cut across almost all age groups. Children today chat on discord, not on the messaging apps that my generation did. A 9-year-old knows who the top gamers are globally and even follow them. Gamers have a massive influence over their followers. Marketers should strive to capitalize on the ever-rising popularity of gamers.
Choose the right gamer: There are over 1000 professional gamers in India, many of them with a mega reach of over a million people. While they share a large part of their followers, these gamers also have a unique following, depending on the games they play, the device they play on, or the language they speak. Therefore, if gaming is part of our marketing communications campaign, we must know the audience/ followers of specific gamers. Analyze demography to see if they are our target group (TG). If yes, we should structure our campaign accordingly and develop our messages to resonate with our TG.
Play with it: okay, so we have decided to work with gamers. We must not lose sight of the fact that this is not the end but the beginning. How well we can engage with the audience depends on what kind of activities we do with a gamer. Our marketing campaign shouldn’t be abrasive or take away from a viewer’s experience. But at the same time, it should be able to create an impact that the viewer notices our product or offering and gets curious. We can also talk to our audience directly through a chat hosted by a gamer but be highly cautious of utilizing this platform. If you are planning to talk to a young audience, decide who they will connect better with- the gamer or you- and choose the speaker accordingly.
While some marketers are cautious of working with gamers, the savvy ones are not only forging deep collaborations with them; they are also gamifying their campaigns. Gamification helps with improved user engagement, conversions, and, ultimately, more sales. And this is not from research or studies; I have personally seen it in campaigns run by my colleagues or me. We are yet to see if e-sports will become as big as physical games such as cricket. Nonetheless, looking at how the market is developing, one thing is for sure, we will see only the rise and rise of video games in the foreseeable future. Marketers who stay apprehensive from incorporating gaming or gamification in their overall strategy will only stand to lose. Because, if you can’t win, if you don’t play!
The author is Lead PR, India of Western Digital. Views expressed are personal.