Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Alternative Reality Games

There is something inherently appealing about the idea of Alternative Reality Games - who hasn't thought of exchanging their world for one of make believe...not only is it appealing to the game participant, it sounds like lots of fun for the makers.

Thinking along these lines and because of a great fit with our consumer insight, I recently proposed (and indeed co-developed concepts for) such a game for a prospective client, but was met with some concerns from colleagues who feared the such a solution might be too niche. What an interesting conundrum.

Digital marketers are constantly seeking new opportunities for their clients and to me the appeal of such games is that they are highly engaging and work across media platforms in new ways - the fact that they would showcase this client's core technology while meeting their business objectives was a bonus. However, for those with more traditional media backgrounds, they seem (to be blunt) a bit geeky.

So how do we get over this perceptual barrier? The data indicates that digital and play (as well as entertainment) are converging. This is particularly true for Generation Y who (almost) always enjoy having fun (no surprise) and have grown up with modern consoles which are becoming more and more mainstream and mobile.

If my experience is anything to go by, some of us may need to think more carefully about the language/terminology we use when pitching games to non-experts. If you've delved into the work of expert/futurist Jane McGonigal or Keri Facer of Futurelab, you will know there is tremendous evidence for the the core benefits of game play on many different levels (learning, teamwork, fun, problem solving, etc). Brands can be the enablers of these benefits (how compelling), but for now to convince them, the opportunity may need to be reframed with a focus on play with technology as a background enabler.

This is a quick cantor around a fascinating and complex subject which I will write about again. Until then, check out ARGNet.

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