Technology Review has an article on how game mechanics are being used in conjunction with marketing. The idea is to create social or game-like spaces online that are also affiliated with a product. For instance, as TR puts it:
for the USA Network’s television show Psych, the startup Bunchball helped build Club Psych on the show’s official website. It rewards fans who sign in, browse though photo galleries, or play mini-games online. In those games they can earn points that can be spent on virtual items that make their “room” on the site resemble the main characters’ office, or on physical Psych-related merchandise. USA Network used Bunchball’s technology in a smart-phone app that is meant to be used while the show is broadcast, rewarding viewers with more points.
Expect to see more of this kind of thing as the trend towards gamification and social games continues. The article reminded me of a conversation about transmedia storytelling that I had with Steve Rubel for an upcoming episode of Spark. He talked about the way transmedia narrative can further the connection to shows, products or projects by creating more of an ongoing relationship with consumers. Of course, as he pointed out, all media are in competition for time and attention when there are so many entertainment and information options out there. I can’t help wondering if there’s going to be pushback from consumers, as time-consuming games and social networks gobble up more of our time. Personally, I want something that either offers me deep engagement, and so truly rewards my attention (such as listening to a niche podcast I really value) or is so lightweight that I can easily fold it into my day (such as Twitter). As content creators, we really have to think clearly about what offers genuine value to our communities.