Introduction to Social Media
Describe the characteristics of social games and gamer
Explain how social media marketers use social games for
branding and promotion
Discuss why social games are an effective marketing tool
Describe the characteristics of alternative reality games
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using
alternative reality games as marketing tools
A social game is defined as a multiplayer,
competitive, goal-oriented activity with defined rules
of engagement and online connectivity among a
community of players. Most social games include a
few key elements:
• Leaderboards: a listing of the leaders in the game
• Achievement badges: symbols awarded to show game
levels achieved and shared to the community
• Friend (buddy) lists with chat: a list of contacts with whom
one plays and the ability to communicate within the game
Traditionally, gamers have been categorized either
as casual or hardcore.
• Casual games (played by casual players) require
only a small amount of time, are easy to learn and
are readily available
• Core games (played by hardcore players) require a
great time investment, are highly immersive and
demand advanced skill
Gaming is not limited to male teens, as once believed
• 67 percent of households play computer games
• 60 percent male overall
• 55 percent female for casual social games
How We Categorize
Game design is built upon several layers, including
• milieu, and genre
A platform refers to the hardware systems on which the
game is played.
Mode and Milieu
Mode refers to the way the game world is experienced.
Milieu describes the visual nature of the game such as science
fiction, fantasy, horror, and retro.
The genre of a game refers to the method of play. Popular
• Simulation games attempt to depict real-world situations as
accurately as possible.
• Action games are performative in that the player chooses an
action that the game then executes.
• Role-playing games (RPGs) are games in which the players
play a character role with the goal of completing some mission.
• Strategy games are those that involve expert play to organize
and value variables in the game system.
In-game advertising is promotion within a game that anoth
. Marketers can choose from among three general
methods for in-game advertising.
• Display ads
• Static ads
• Dynamic ads
A product placement is the placement
of a branded item in an entertainment
property such as a television program,
movie, or game.
• Also includes:
• Screen placements
• Script placements
• Transactional advertising
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Mafia Wars’ Public Enemies Week
In-game immersive advertising opportunities include
interactive product placements, branded in-game
experiences, and game integration between the game and
The game itself is a form of branded
entertainment. It is designed by the brand to
reflect the brand’s positioning statement.
Why Do Games Work for
There are some key characteristics of games—in
addition to cost and ease of targeting—that make
this domain especially attractive to marketers going
• Gamers are open to advertising content in games
• Brands benefit when they associate with a successful game
• Players identify with the brands their characters use,
increasing brand involvement
• Branding within a game’s story is an unobtrusive way to share
a brand’s core message
• Marketers can measure a game’s promotional value
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Alternate Reality Games: A
An alternate reality game (ARG) is “a cross-media genre of
interactive fiction using multiple delivery and
communications media, including television, radio,
newspapers, Internet, email, SMS, telephone, voicemail, and
Since ARGs involve two or more different media, they are
also known as transmedia social games.
Characteristics of ARGs
ARGs are based on a fictional story.
ARGs are strategy/puzzle games.
ARGS offer clues on multiple platforms.
The story and characters are fictional, but the game space is
Players collaborate to unravel the meanings of the clues offered
but they also compete to be the first to solve layers of the
The story unfolds, but typically not in a linear fashion.
ARGs are organic; the story may not unfold as initially
Players rely on the Internet, and especially social communities
including forums, as the hub of communication.
Players desire to share information with each other and for the
story to be followed by observers.
The Vocabulary of ARGs
Puppet master: The authors, architects, and managers of the story
and its scenarios and puzzles.
Curtain: The invisible line separating the players from the puppet
Rabbit hole: The clue or site that initiates the game.
Collective detective: A term that captures the notion of
collaboration among a team of geographically dispersed players
who work together to flesh out the story.
Lurkers and rubberneckers: Lurkers follow the game but do not
actively participate; rubberneckers participate in forums but do
not actively play
Steganography: The tactic of hiding messages within another
medium so that the message is undetectable for those who do not
know to look for it.
Trail: A reference index of the game including relevant sites,
puzzles, in-game characters, and other information.
The Marketing Value of ARGs
The most successful ARGs in terms of participation are
The key is to ensure a high level of congruence between the
game and the brand.
Many of the games do not identify the sponsor who is behind
Evaluating the Effectiveness of a
ARG effectiveness measures are similar to those used for other
social media approaches. Specifically:
• Number of active players
• Number of lurkers and rubberneckers
• Rate of player registration
• Number of player messages generated
• Traffic at sites affiliated with the ARG
• Number of forum postings
• Average play time
• Media impressions made through ARG generated publicity