Social Gaming: Farmville is for n00bs. A look at gaming across platforms and the culture of gaming “societies”. Includes media and sponsorship opportunities for digitally innovative brands. David BenBassett, Intern, Summer 2010
-There’s been a stereotype about the “gamer” for a long time now, that image of a chubby, acne covered nerd sitting alone in his basement about a foot away from a TV screen. -That’s not the case though (most of the time anyway), as about 55% of the US population now plays some type of video game. Not all gamers are the hardcore variety who make gaming their number one hobby. That is only a small segment. These days gamers can be kids, seniors, men, women, doctors, lawyers…anyone who wants to have a little fun.
Social gaming has been around for awhile now, though it’s form has evolved with game technology. At the beginning there were arcades, allowing people to play individual games in one location. -Next were home consoles which peaked with the PS2 which allowed players to join up locally to play two player co-op campaigns-Next-gen systems like the Xbox 360 and PS3 emphasized the social aspect of gaming with the online competitive and co-op gaming-Branching off, were the PC and online simulators where people could connect with thousands at once with a powerful graphics card and an internet connection-The next step in the chain is the motion controlled games, bringing more family friendly titles that have effectively widened the age range of gamers. This stage is currently evolving and it’ll be interesting to see where this tech takes the industry.
-So, who are the players? A study by NPD Group Inc. found 169.9 million gamers in the US which is about 55% of the population. The average age of a gamer is actually 32 though companies generally target a range of 13-34 when marketing to gamers.-Generally games are targeted to males, for example most main characters are male, but more and more girls are playing games these days with an ever increasing 60:40 male/female ratio.-The average time spent gaming by a casual gamer is about 13 hours per week. Depending on the person this could be a family activity, time spent relaxing, or how they get competitive.
-How do these guys get together?Players who meet on or offline and are satisfied with each other’s skills can form a clan. Clans are labeled with a tag and a logo and generally compete in online games like Halo or COD against other clans or individuals. In MMO’s clans usually team up on quests in kind of a Lord of the Rings manner…a fellowship if you will. -Clan members are often seeking friends and status within the game world. Websites like the one pictured rank clans, and clans themselves are sometimes very selective, even going so far as holding try-outs.
So here’s a little challenge. Let’s see if you can decipher a few common gamer-nerd phrases…Inexperienced or casual gamer: often one who employs simple tactics in a game or is frequently killed
Poaned you lol: often followed by noob, this phrase is used by the obnoxious to further strip a player of dignity after beating them in a game.
Fear my leet (awesome) skills: if you ever come across this phrase in a game or chat, leave and never speak to that person again.
-Leet is commonly heard between gamers as a method of trash talk. It evolved from a computer hacker language made up of letters, numbers, and poor spelling-There are various degrees of intensity in the use of #s and symbols; generally the more numbers and symbols in a message the more you should avoid that person.-Getting insulted in leet speak is used a way to further degrade some negative event in a game. Hearing it through a speaker on voice chat makes the you depressed that you are associating with someone who says lol in conversation
-So first up is Xbox Live, the online service of the Xbox 360. There are currently 25 million active players on XBL-XBL users also have access to an online market place for games/virtual goods as well as Netflix. -Halo is arguably the most popular multiplayer franchise on Xbox Live. -Generally there are about 16 people in one match split up into teams or flying solo.-The Goal: kill each other-Players compare rankings (MVP, soldier class), earn achievements and talk a lot of trash
-PSN+ is similar to Xbox live, now offering a paid subscription for the marketplace and online game play. PSN is home to about 40 million accounts, though the exact number of users is hard to determine because people often make multiple accounts. -MAG, or massive action game is purely online with up to 256 players in a game at one time! This title took online gaming to a new level, though its execution was only mediocre. -Beginning with character customization, players join a squad who work as a team to complete specific goals in the midst of mass-multiplayer-murder. Players can take on a leadership role and if successful, earn control of more people and gain special perks and trophies
-Nintendo’s DS handheld is the most widely held console worldwide with 132.3 million units.-While still a console, it’s a handheld used mostly by younger kids with games like Nintendogs and Pokemon. And the older crowd with games like Braintuner.-The DS is wifi enabled so players nearby can game together. A camera sits at the top to allow for potential video chat, there’s a microphone for voice chat, and a touch screen keyboard for text chat with nearby gamers.
-MMORPG stands for massively multiplayer online role playing game…that’s a mouthful.-The avg player is male aged 14-28, but don’t worry for every five of those guys there’s one girl for them to talk to in the realm. -there are currently 11.5 million active WoW players who game on average 22.7 hours a week.-MMO’s consist of a huge online realm with thousands of live users active at one time. Players team up to go on quests, explore, and earn experience for their characters.-Players spend large amounts of time with their avatar; customizing and improving it…people often spend real money on this stuff to get the best equipment thus gaining a competitive advantage over others.
Avatars in MMO’s and online games are a way for players to express who they want to be. People go crazy with their avatars and some games even allow you to upload a picture of yourself which gets transplanted onto the face of your character in an awkward digital form.
-Second life is an online world that takes all social situations of the real world and puts them in a game (jobs, friends, sex, shopping)-Players can be who they want to be (not necessarily human) and have jobs that they want to have (minimum wage, real-estate, dancing, etc) players even design their own houses and businesses…in short it’s extensive. -SL is home to its own economy where users can make actual money. There is an exchange rate of 1 US$= 270L approx and numerous sites exist that allow you to buy and sell Linden dollars with paypal like methods for actually receiving money. In 2008, the economy of second life amounted to $567 million dollars. -People make real money selling virtual goods. Some people will make 50 bucks, others will become millionaires. SL virtual goods created a $1.25 billion market according to Forbes.
-Games force players to constantly scan the world they are in for obstacles, and players are extremely talented at picking up subtleties and surroundings. In driving games a player needs to know the course and constantly check for the positions of other cars and in sports games the player must control an entire team at once…so opportunities exist to put ads into games.-One thing that’s important though is whatever ad you enter into a game should match the atmosphere and feel of the game world. It’s easy to incorporate real world ads into driving and sports games, but when you see a half destroyed coke billboard in a war game, that can get pretty cool.
-When gamers are representing themselves in a game (one that has some elements of reality in it) through an avatar there is a push towards creating the ideal self while maintaining some “actual” style. Therefore real-life brand apparel and accessories in games are very attractive to players. -When I play sports games, I always try to match the in-game equipment to what I use in real life. -It’s important to realize that gamers realize there isn’t much practical value of these goods outside of the game world, so prices must be kept low to encourage them to purchase.-Since online games require an email address, it would be interesting to tie in coupons or discounts for repping the brand through an avatar. For example if someone bought some adidas shoes for their character, they might receive an email with a 25% off real shoes coupon thanking them for their purchase.
-Second life is a great opportunity for all business but in terms of healthcare, this would be a game that makes more sense than Forza Motorsport, this could be their niche. -Companies have entered second life as a way to advertise and raise real money. Virtual concerts, awareness events, fundraisers, and film screenings have taken place within second life for players and their avatars to participate in…for the price of virtual ticket. -Ideas like this allow for two things. One, they enable businesses to interact with customers on a highly creative and personal level where they are more likely to pay attention because it is “part of the game”. Two second life is online, so by talking to customers in this medium it’s a chance to offer them exclusive coupons or trial offers, etc if they register on a site a company avatar leads them to. -Relay for life in 08 raised $215,000 dollars on Second Life
This technology is in the works but is not perfected or public yet. It’s extremely interactive however and if it were to ever be released it could have serious implications. On the one hand companies could sponsor Milo’s production and potentially update the software to have him suggest products or give news on new developments related to the player through some type of registration or data input. On the other hand, kids with Milo could become totally immersed in this “friendship” and potentially lose touch with real contact. Scary stuff.
So what are the takeaways from all of this?-Opportunities exist to move marketing and advertising into video games.-Create branded virtual goods that players can use as gifts or avatar items-Virtual events are a creative way to access consumers and can net you real profit-In order to use gaming or any media to your advantage it is essential to stay up to date on the technology being used or developed
Tie in with coupons or
discounts for repping the brand through an avatar</li></li></ul><li>Virtual campaigns cost less than real ones<br /><ul><li>Second life presents a great opportunity for healthcare initiatives
Staying up to date on
the technology employed in games and other media is essential to using it as a competitive advantage</li></li></ul><li>Washington, DC New York 1055 Thomas Jefferson St., NW 285 Madison Avenue Suite 200 3rd Floor Washington, DC 20007 New York, NY 10017 202 625 2111 212 210 3631 <br />