Angry Birds. Sims. Farmville. World of Warcraft. What do all of these items have in common? Well, they are just some of the more popular social games out there on the market. Each has their own unique characteristics and functions – but they all have a purpose and role in social media and other forms of emerging technologies. They also have a key role as effective mediums in the world of gamification.
We see this present across various social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter (ex. contests) as well as checking in at various locations – but also integrated into geolocation based applications like Foursquare and Gowalla. Now, we are also seeing the influence of gaming in various marketing campaigns integrating augmented reality technologies. Take this new video featuring “Foursquaroply” – definitely incorporating the gaming principles here:
The influence of gamification into marketing and public relations practices is the wave of the future. Many brands and other companies in various industries are jumping on board with this trend right now – this is definitely one thing that will be remembered about 2011 as being the year of gaming with PR and marketing campaigns.
Jason Falls gave a very insightful and interesting presentation on this very topic yesterday at the Emerging Media Summit. The key components of the gaming process can be successfully applied strategically in various marketing and PR campaigns. While there are many possibilities here implementing this process for professional campaign activities, my thoughts ran with the possibilities of incorporating this in PR research and teaching.
So, how would you go about in doing this? Looking back at both research and teaching practices – there are certainly many ways to incorporating gaming principles in these various areas of the PR profession. In terms of research, here are a few things to consider:
- GRAs/TAs are motivated by achievement and rewards: Working with students on research projects and teaching obligations does fit some of the gaming principles – you reward the students who help you with triggers to motivate them to continue with their great performances (ex. achievement), but they are also motivated by not failing at their duties and avoiding the consequences of these actions (avoidance).
- Letting students and GTAs know the rules and expectations of the “game” while also providing constructive feedback for them to learn and grow as professionals: In classes and in research, professors provide students with their expectations and rules for the class (aka syllabus) – throughout the process and class, the professor’s role is to provide feedback and discuss which ways the students or GTAs can improve on their work for this specific project of class. Mentoring is definitely a key component to consider with this gaming perspective of academia.
- Help with publishing work / presenting at conferences provides opportunities to socialize and network: Working hard on projects can help students get their foot into the door with various occasions to network and socialize. These projects help them not only expand their horizons and knowledge base (pride of learning new skills), but it also provides them a door to enter the world of academia by talking with other students and professors in the area (socializing).
- Online reputation management: Whether it is for research or for teaching – we are continuing to make sure that we complete our entire profile or have the best looking portfolio / website to showcase our skills. We interact with gaming principles all of the time when we are looking at social media, according to Jason Falls. He has some great examples of this in his presentation slides (available on Slideshare). These principles can apply to research and teaching as well. Professors and other professionals want to make sure that they are as active as possible in publishing papers and presenting at conferences, obtaining grants, and teaching a range of courses.
- Academic Families: In academia, it is not only who you know in the field, but also your “academic family lineage” so to speak. Who you worked with and what line of research / contribution to the field is all part of the academic game. Discussing who are your up and coming students and what they are doing is always a topic of conversation at conferences – but in essence, this almost appears to be like a game since professors are striving to get as many well-qualified and fabulous students out in the field and in academia to pass on their influence and presence in both research and in the field.
- Research and Classes should be demanding, hard, but enjoyable: There is a balance between meeting the expectations and working on a goal while making it enjoyable for everyone in the process. Stimulating new and innovative ideas while providing a positive and engaging atmosphere will help generate great research ideas, commitment to course material, and create a dynamic new learning environment for everyone. Games are indeed fun and enjoyable – and research and teaching can be approached in the same manner in regards to this principle.