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Gamifying Real Life: Extending Connection to the Physical World



Lauren Kimball, design director at Momentum reflects on the evolving world of virtual experiences and the continued desire for amazing experiences

Gamifying Real Life: Extending Connection to the Physical World

At the start of the pandemic, virtual experiences were largely reactive, glitchy and lackluster. Fast-forward to now, and almost all of us have engaged with an array of smoothed-out digital experiences. But while this past year has made life on-demand, the one constant that has remained is the desire for amazing experiences, regardless of channel.

The Gen Z mindset of constant connectivity that was once thought exclusive to that generation has spread across all others, and this need for connection has led to a swift digital transformation over the past year. Consumer expectations have risen, and digital experiences have become social currency in the new virtual economy, with gaming leading the way. Self-identified gamers have jumped from 63% to 82% during the pandemic. So as restrictions begin to lift and consumers reenter the physical world, will gamification be as important in real life? The short answer is yes, absolutely.

At the beginning of the pandemic, gaming was an immediate outlet for many players, both new and highly skilled. As time went on, the gaming industry became a platform for brands and consumers to engage in the virtual-experience economy in a more meaningful way. Games were played, digital communities were formed and people started looking at gaming as a way to rekindle the human connection that had been lost so abruptly. 80% of people agree the best way for brands to form an emotional connection with consumers is to create immersive experiences that allow them to live and breathe the brand. If brands want these connections to remain post-COVID, they must find a way to bring the escapism of gaming into the physical world through blended experiences.

Part of what makes the gaming industry so successful is that it allows consumers to escape reality—something we can all relate to right now. Players build powers, make friends and create stories that only a virtual world can provide. Verizon recognised this opportunity for enhanced connection, so we helped them create an entirely new level in Fortnite creative mode for Superbowl LV. The sheer essence of creative mode allows gamers to do just that—create. We partnered with some of the best gaming builders in the world, and the collaboration pushed the boundaries of blending physical and digital to create something unique for the Fortnite community. The design took its inspiration from existing NFL stadiums, teams and players, and merged that with a design language that was authentically Fortnite. The result was an ever-lasting experience that attracted over 40 million users during its launch during Super Bowl week, and is still live today to inspire and engage.

Other great examples of gamified experiences include Huawei’s StorySign app and Niantic Labs recent work with Catan – World Explorers. StorySign uses AI and AR to help open the world of books for deaf children, and Catan – World Explorers is a multi-player game that uses AR to transform the Earth into one giant game of Catan. Each of these experiences is successful in part because they blur the boundaries between virtual and reality, and this type of engagement is exactly what must happen to excite consumers when we reenter the world. 

When we can create a relationship between virtual experiences at home and physical engagements on the ground, not only do we extend gamification to real life but we infinitely amplify a brand’s presence. We create opportunities for everyone to participate and offer moments of escape, be that from the real world or from their own home.

As we look toward the future, we must continue to identify the positives that have come out of this digital transformation and use those to enhance the new world of blended experiences. Gamification is one of those positives, and when done right will continue to create opportunities for brands and consumers to connect as we deliver the next generation of experiential.


Momentum Proprietary We Know Experiences Research Series Wave 2, 2020

Simon-Kucher & Partners, Global Gaming Study, 2020

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Momentum Worldwide, Mon, 29 Mar 2021 12:35:22 GMT