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Immerse with gamification

What can we learn from the UK's largest entertainment sector? We look at the technique of 'gamification' and award-winning examples that use them.
Unity is the first Assassin’s Creed game to feature cooperative multiplayer gameplay. Fittingly, the trailer of this latest release spotlights not just one assassin, but thousands of them. And it was the fans themselves who were given the chance to create each and every single one of them. In two months, more than two million users visited the website, customising more than 200,000 assassins and picking between more than five million options. The 1,430 avatars with the most likes got the chance to integrate an epic trailer directed by Joseph Kosinski and aired on TV channels and cinemas worldwide.
An interactive version of the film was made available to users online, enabling them to stop the video at any time to find their avatars or those created by their friends. And this generated more than 300,000 shares on social media. The challenge was for users to focus on their assassin, no matter where they clicked on the map. The rendering technique was therefore developed so that each one of them stayed sharp to the eye regardless of their position and depth in the field.
The film ends with a scene uniting all the fan created assassins in a GigaPan, offering the chance to zoom times ten.
Like a wave of unrest rolling through Paris to cleanse the streets of tyranny and oppression. [GUNSHOT] A few lucky fans even got the surprise to find their avatars posted in the streets of their cities. Others were lucky enough to see their assassin’s avatar on the video game sleeves themselves to allow all fans everywhere to celebrate the release of Unity in the most epic trailer in the history of Assassin’s Creed.
Assassin’s Creed Unity
Agency: Sid Lee Paris / Client: Ubisoft EMEA
Yellow Pencil / Branded Film Content & Entertainment / 2015
In 2012, the sales of computer games in the UK surpassed video sales for the first time, making the gaming industry the UK’s largest entertainment sector. Globally, the industry is set to be worth $102.9 billion by 2017.
It’s predicted that this year we’ll see mobile gaming overtaking consoles for the first time, making the medium even more appealing and relevant to the communications and marketing industries.
So how can brand communications utilise this massive medium?
Increasingly we’re seeing games launched by a brand as part of a campaign to help communicate, promote and engage.
Last week we looked at the integrated campaign ‘Dumb Ways to Die’, promoting rail safety in Australia for Metro Trains. Part of the campaign was a mobile game where the player works against the clock to ‘save’ as many of the cute characters from dying in ‘dumb’ ways. The app had reach far beyond the intended audience of the Australian campaign, reaching a total of 103 million downloads and 1.6 billion unique plays coming from every country in the world.
The creators of the Hobbit films also developed a mobile game to promote the film franchise. To create excitement among the fans for the upcoming release, the studios wanted to give them a unique perspective on the world of ‘The Hobbit’. Users are encouraged to freely explore the a bird’s-eye map of Middle-earth, taking part in a mixture of interactive challenges and gameplay.
Beyond the obvious device of creating mobile games relevant to our brand, what else can we learn from the gaming industry?
The idea of gamification (using typical elements of game play, rather than creating a ‘game’ in its entirety) can instantly engage and immerse audiences by encouraging participation.
Gamification can be achieved by incorporating any of the following elements:
  • Challenges
  • Leader boards
  • Achievements
  • Engagement
  • Incentives
  • Points
  • Strategy
  • Loyalty
So where can we see this being used in advertising and brand communications, and which gamification techniques are they using?
Assassin’s Creed Unity, released in 2014, celebrated its launch with an interactive trailer (above). Across two months, over two millions fans visited the Unity website and created over 200,000 custom assassins, picking from over five million possible options (engagement). The 1,430 most popular avatars were animated one by one and integrated into the trailer. An interactive version of the film enabled online users to halt the action and find their avatar in the thick of it (challenge and achievement). A few lucky fans even got to see their avatars posted in the streets of their cities and on limited edition box art (incentive).
‘A Trip Out To Sea’ for Guy Cotton, a leading manufacturer of marine clothing and safety equipment, challenged the user to scroll continuously to stop the character from drowning (challenge) – reminding us how quickly we tire at sea, and hammering home the importance of life jackets, thus bringing the ‘game’ back to the brand message.
Nike’s ‘Your Year’ by AKQA Portland took data from top Nike Fuel Bands users (loyalty) and illustrated individual exercise stories for the year, before setting personalised challenges for the users to try and beat throughout the New Year (challenge, incentives and points).
Two Minute Task
  • Which other brands can you think of that use elements of gamification in their communications? Share them in the comments.
  • How would you ‘gamify’ your story? Have a think about how you could take influence from the gaming industry to further engage your audience and immerse them in your narrative.
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