The Very Near Future of the Web Part 2 – Gaming

originally posted on Concept Hub

At my house the weekend starts at 4:30 on Friday. This is when my teenage son comes homes from school, shoves something completely unhealthy in his mouth and heads downstairs to play his Xbox 360.

This past Friday I came home and saw my teenage son proudly holding up a $20 bill his Nan gave him for his birthday. He said “you know who this is? This is Andrew Jackson, and he did a lot of bad things. But do you know what is good about him?” I smile and inquire “what?” He tells me that “Andrew Jackson wants to go rent Modern Warfare (a new game) as much as he does.” So off to Blockbuster we went.

The past few generations alive today grew up with computer games. I do not recall how old I was when my family got our first Atari console, but I was young. The only game I was able to play was a car game that ate numbers. Eventually my family allowed me to play a little table tennis with them and finally I graduated to Combat.

Combat is no Modern Warfare.

My teenage son gets to play with friends he has made all over the country and the world. Together they create mini movies called Machinima. The games he plays look like movies, and in fact, they play as though you are a character in a movie.

These gaming consoles are also starting to integrate with social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Last.fm.

While my teenage son was engaged in battle my 8 year old son was playing with his friends virtually on the Build a Bear website. By the end of the night he informed me which new Build a Bear animal he wanted for Christmas.

The moral of the story of my family’s typical Friday night is that gaming has a huge impact on our lives. The members in our online gaming communities are as much a part of our lives as our actual neighbors. Through that community, brands are able to raise awareness about new products and influence purchase decisions or other various calls to action.

Whether we like it or not, social gaming has also invaded our social networking sites. From Farmville a social game created for Facebook to the popular gaming company, Electronic Arts launching an extension of it’s popular game “Spore” to Facebook.

There is also no shortage of Branded Games online such as:

Build a Bear

Cartoon Network

Nabisco World

Coca Cola

and many, many more.

There are even examples of unlikely brands  successfully embracing gaming such as:

State Farm

Dyson

IKEA

Visa

And then there is the accelerated growth of in-game advertising which according to Wikipedia was a $56 million industry in 2005 and is estimated to be a $1.8 billion industry by  2010.

There are many various reasons for the growth of gaming. Gaming by it’s very nature is social, interactive, and engaging. In a world where our attention is being pulled in a million different directions, gaming provides us an escape by enabling us to immerse ourselves into an activity.

Brands have also caught on to the idea that by capturing our attention in a game, they have the ability to enhance brand awareness, leverage peer influence purchasing decisions, educate their audience, and develop brand loyalty by enabling their audience to be emotionally, and oftentimes financially, invested into the brand.

Virtual games have become our children’s reality and will rapidly become a reality in almost every aspect of our lives, from how we make purchasing decisions to how we learn. We are even going to be immersed in games such as FourSquare that will help us decide where to have dinner on a Saturday night.