The world without play is a world without purpose.
I realised at the beginning of the millennium that I could change the way advertising works by using the power of play. Advertising had become dull and the Internet was a new frontier but as there was so much stuff to look at, it became too difficult to attract users to your site or brand.
The answer was play. If I could give people a few minutes of escapism and fun, I could get their attention. Matmi incorporated play into brand engagement, making games for brands (virals, advergames).The results were astonishing, with the ROI outperforming every other type of media.
Why do we like to play?
Play brings us joy and escapism from our everyday lives. Playing games allows us to set a challenge, work within teams, problem solve, earn achievements and rewards in order to progress. It’s not just about winning, its the taking part that delivers the fun.
We play board games, cards, crosswords, sudoko, word searches, fruit machines, sports, computer games etc. Without play, our lives would be meaningless and dull.
Parents tell Kids that they shouldn’t be wasting their time playing computer games. My parents said it to me! Playing helps teach kids valuable lessons in life; problem solving, faster reactions, maths, physics, English, coordination etc. Play shouldn’t have to stop when you grow up.
68% of gamers are over 18, the average age is 35 and more adult women play games than boys (under 18).
Work also involves challenges; working within teams and problem solving. So why is work and play treated so differently? Could we make work as fun as play? If we bring intrinsic motivational achievements into our workplace, can working deliver the motivational triggers and engagement that playing a game does?
Gamification has typically been outwardly facing and used to encourage consumers to engage with a product or service. Now gamification is looking inwards and helping companies reach their targets quicker, allowing staff to see how they can climb the career ladder and improve their ROI. Many companies have implemented gamification techniques to encourage their staff to work better whilst having fun. Imagine a time when people get up in the morning and they don’t worry about going to work because work is play.
So if play is being used for leisure and work, where else is the Power of Play making an impact?
We may not realise it but play is finding its way into a number of different sectors including the military, healthcare systems, logistics, finance, education, retail and research.
Recently, Cancer Research have been using the Power of Play to see if they can solve a problem with analysing data. As you can imagine, Cancer Research collects a lot of data. Algorithms are often used to see patterns in the data but these cannot spot irregularities as effectively as the human eye. The scientist’s time is wasted analysing millions of datasets when they could be doing more research.
They created Citizen Scientists by releasing a game called Cell Slider that used crowdsourcing to analyse test slides of breast cancer data. The users were shown a slide and had to spot any inconsistencies with the data. However, without a scientific background, users lost interest quickly.
So they approached the problem in a different way. They decided to make a game called Gene Wars where users have to fly a space ship collecting space dust. The game used the breast cancer datasets as the level data (space dust). The game was easier to understand, contained motivational factors and was more fun to play. The results were much better with nearly 400,000 Citizen Scientists engaging and crunching their way through over 3 million datasets. The results were amazing with data being crunched 300 times faster than before. This freed up the scientist to continue their experiments and for public to do the research while having fun.
By users playing the game they were analysing data without even realising what they were doing.
Games are now used in ways that I could have never imagined.
We are currently producing platforms that use play for the cinema industry, banking, healthcare, theme parks etc. We encourage user engagement thru the use of play.
With the advance of IOT and wearable technologies, our health, fitness and homes are being tiered into a game that we are motivated to play well.
The intrinsic reinforcement with games helps release dopamine and helps change the wiring of the brain to make us more creative, fast at reacting and masters of multi-tasking.
Where will the Power of Play take us next? Can we solve the world’s problems by playing? Watch this space…