Let the Games Begin

There’s no doubt that the gaming industry is booming. According the 2011 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry report published by the ESA (Entertainment Software Association), consumers spent $25.1 billion dollars on games in 2010. Although this number may seem a bit astronomical at first, consider the context – upwards of 72% of American households play computer or video games. In the words of Al Gore, “Games are the new normal.”

With stats like that, it should come as no surprise that gamification – the use of game design techniques to encourage users to engage in a particular behaviour – is quickly being embraced my marketers and CEOs alike. It’s a huge and relatively new method for brands to attract and engage consumers, including those outside of their traditional market segments. This is particularly true for brands that want to resonate with Generation C, who has grown up gaming and is continuing to do so into adulthood. According to the ESA, the average age of a gamer today is 37, and only 18% are under 18.

Traditionally conservative industries, like banking, could stand to benefit the most from incorporating gamification into their marketing strategies. Banks already hold a large consumer base – however for the most part it isn’t very engaged. Banking is something we have to do, not something that we want to do or seek enjoyment from. Games can fix all that.

So how can the banking industry utilize gamification to better meet the needs of its consumers? For starters, it can offer incentives for consumers to engage in desired behaviours like depositing money into a savings account or setting up a RRSP. For these game-inspired initiatives to work, however, banks will have to find ways to celebrate their gamers. One way this can be done is to transform rewards from digital gold stars to real-life benefits (such as unlimited ATM withdrawals or lower chequing fees). Banks could also stand to benefit from a little friendly competition as users compete against one another in special challenges.

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That said, gamification shouldn’t be thought of as an extension of the social trend. While the two do compliment each other (high scores and accomplishments could be shared on Facebook), it is possible for them to exist separately from one another. This is particularly relevant to the gamification of banking, where increased consumer concerns over data security and personal privacy should be expected.

So what are you waiting for? Let the games begin!

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