Tell me, are you a princess saving, mushroom collecting fanatic or do you prefer fighting goblins at your offices on Friday nights over drinks?
Or are you one of those people who loves to see Zombie guts and blood splattered all over your big screen, while eating pop rocks and sipping cider through a beer hat?
AN ESCAPE ROUTE
Regardless of what your ‘escape route’ may be, most of us seek, outside our daily lives, an alternative reality. A place, even if only for a moment, we can escape to. A ‘magic door’ to walk or leap or prance – depending on your fancy – through.
And on the other side of this door we can live another part of our lives in this somewhat ‘temporary world.’ We can become who we want and even sometimes do what we want.
Yes you can kill your office mates without the repercussions of losing your job or ride a dragon across a sea. Or even play murder in the dark if that’s your thing.
All is possible, as long as you can imagine it.
INSIDE THE PLAYGROUND
You run from the classroom or office, finally free (for awhile) with one goal in mind. To escape. To play. To find a place to forget the real world for awhile.
And then you find this place that is like a sand pit of sorts. A playground. Somewhere ‘spontaneous play’ can exist, through shared experiences, and new discoveries. A space in time for us to explore dreams and fantasy and the magic that may be missing from the real world.
And this is how it begins.
But Playground Law states that what begins as play will often take on new roles. Things can morph and change within this temporary world. Within the playground. Sometimes things move on beyond just play. A transformation takes place.
What we discover is that, within this ‘sandpit,’ a set of rules and boundaries begin to develop.
And sometimes, depending on who you were, you’d be the one making up the rules (sometimes different ones for yourself) and if there was someone you liked less than the others, you would create challenges that were more difficult for them.
Then, as others joined in you began to explore new ways for each other to take part.
You maybe even provided incentives, even if it is just status related – like nominating a friend to side kick – so that others would want to join in, have something to aspire to. Or maybe you would promise them half of your sherbet stick? Or to be their best friend?
Regardless, through play, world’s were created where not everything was fair but there were rules and there were boundaries and sometimes a time limit (from lunch beginning to lunch end) so that there was an understanding, by all involved, as to how things were played. What the rules were. How it was all going to go down.
And so a game is born.
We may go into things with the idea we’re just going to ‘mess around for a bit’ but then we realise we’re seek something else, inside and outside this playground, our motivations change. Our escapist tendencies don’t just become a need for a distraction, we want to gain more from it. We want shared experiences, and rewards for our work. We want to gain knowledge or points even. We want a return on our time investment.
We begin to expect more. Want for more. Almost demand more.
Isn’t that a lot like life?
LIFE IS AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE
In our everyday lives we tend to gamify parts of the experience. Whether it’s being chased by Zombies on a run or walking down the street and trying to step on all the cracks whilst singing “step on the cracks to break the devils back,” we often make games out of simple things, because Life itself is a game.
Life itself is an immersive experience. The ORIGINAL immersive experience. Online or not.
And now that our lives and our stories are converging more and more with social media and the online sphere, we are almost less engaged in the outside world and more engaged in this new territory. We’re entering the Matrix.
The places we once use to go to escape, are so ingrained in our reality that language and metaphors of play and gaming now take up more of our life story, are a part of our day to day.
The lines are blurring. It’s time to level up.
In a world so full of white noise, of memes and viral videos, to not get lost in the crowd, means that in order to be the distraction, you must find ways to capture people’s attention. Infiltrate their lives (I’m not talking about cyber stalking) and engage your audience, in much the same way as you would if you were a magician pulling someone from the audience to use in your magic act.
(You just need to go beyond pulling a rabbit out of a hat, or cutting someone in half. Okay?)
Drag them out of the playground and into your own Game world.
Allow them, even if only for a moment, to get ‘lost’ in something (a game for example *hint hint*), so that when they become immersed in the experience, they begin to engage more intensely. And those who engage, those who become more invested, especially via games and gamification will, like the children in the playground, want to play with you, spend more time with you.
And will often come back to play again tomorrow.
So what were the games you played as a child? In your youth? How can you incorporate these into your business? How can you relate the game to the niche that you are working with?
CREATES A CULTURE
Give people something cutting edge and they will love you forever.
Take them out of their daily lives and send them on some mystical journey, or if not a mystical one, give them an experience that is either new and innovative or one that may bring back feelings of nostalgia.
Gamification and the immersive elements it allows, will draw people into your world. It’s like those who fight together, stay together. You take someone on an experience, you immerse them, you give them rewards, they’ll follow you anywhere. Just allowing someone that escape or that distraction (and even better if they are rewarded for that) allows you to build a culture where your clients and prospects willingly ‘drink the koolaid.’
Such a culture of innovation and immersion, not only creates people who are loyal, but also creates people who are more productive, engaged, knowledgeable and who will seek higher levels of achievement. They will become more innovative and creative. And these should be the people you want on your team, because they will be the ones who travel to the ends of the earth with you, waiting for every new adventure you will take them on.
Plus games are always better when played with others.
LEFT WANTING MORE
People tend to be reached much more easily via the game world, because we do engage with things that allow us that escape, that will bring us that instant gratification. But in such a hectic world we want and possibly need things that can move forward our lives.
Providing both is like killing two birds with one stone. Or shooting birds to kill two pigs or whatever!
On one hand we want the experiences they have in immersive gameplay, to filter seamlessly into their real life, so that it does become part of their story, and yet you want to slap them out of their daydream, be that distraction, that escapism.
You want to take up a starring role in their life story. Shake things up. Give them something they can use.
If you create something that captures their attention and engages them and ultimately rewards them you will leave a legacy of people who want more, will come back for more and eagerly await for what’s next.
You might even find yourself in a tug of war – like that one toy being torn between two children.
‘No it’s mine!’
At least until the next new shiny thing comes along. So be that shiny new thing out there, and make everyone wonder –
What will they do next?