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Talking gamification and soup cans at mesh 11

I recently had the pleasure of attending #mesh11 [1] in my hometown of Toronto, and I am happy to say it was a great time! The conference was filled with “socialites” and it provided some great take-aways.

In this post, I’d like to spend some time to recap a particular talk that caught my attention, given by keynote speaker Gabe Zichermann. As those in attendance already know, he is a great presenter. Even with the small drops of profanity here and there, I don’t think he lost anyone’s interest. Kudos, Gabe!

Gabe spent the majority of his time speaking about gamification, which I know isn’t totally in the space of social media monitoring [2] (yet), but I am mentioning it because I think it soon will be part of the future of our industry.

What I appreciated the most was Gabe’s ability to re-contextualize the strategy and importance of what gamifcation should be. “It’s not flying through clouds and shooting soup cans… That doesn’t work… Ever.” Which I think is a fairly obvious statement; so obvious, most of us don’t even consider it. Before hearing this presentation, that’s what I thought a lot of gamification was – brands shoving themselves into game scenarios that don’t make sense.

Soup Can Game

Gabe stated that the industry is not about being a games company, rather,”Gamification is about learning from the techniques of games to make the experience more fun. More fun fundamentally produces better results.” For me, this provided merit to the strategy.

It starts to make even more sense when you bring TV ratings into the mix because as Gabe explained, games should be considered the next form of mass media. Games not only keep people entertained for periods far longer then television, but also have them deeply engaged in the activity as opposed to sitting on the sidelines. This makes them an even better medium to encourage end-user habit-forming. In terms of sheer numbers, if Farmville was held on the same merit as TV shows for ratings, it would be the top show in the US. Using these same criteria, the top five shows would either be video games or game shows, which further re-enforces the point: Games, or actively participating in them, are simply and naturally a part of our makeup.

For me, it’s not a question anymore of will this “gamification” gain ground. It’s really how much ground will it end up taking in the end? Even more interesting is how will it affect the social media monitoring space and the statistics we rely on? As opposed to number of positive mentions, imagine if we start looking for kill-streak ratio vs. satisfaction.

An interesting thought for now… but for the time being: Chess anyone?

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