Gamer’s Psyche & Marketing

Generations have witnessed the involvement of digital games. First ever video game created which became an instant hit was “pong” by William Higinbotham in 1958. Since then video game console and devices have observed sophisticated evolution starting from Magnavox Odyssey to Xbox, Playstation, Wii, etc.. 4 out of 5 household in US claims to have a separate video game device [1]. For the mainstream gamer, computes and mobile phones do the trick. The gaming industry is doing tremendous worldwide, as it hit $91 billion revenue in the year 2016.

This brings us to a good old question ‘Why do we play what we play?’ Spent one year trying to figure out the gamer’s psyche and hence, below are a few insights based purely on psychology:

Quest for Omnipotence

Who wouldn’t like to play God in their own little world? Early Freudianism saw a feeling of omnipotence as intrinsic to early childhood. There’s a very little chance that this need is ever going to be fulfilled. But, the gamer’s own world, where he is the master, the savior, the destroyer, the conqueror and in the some genres – the creator; gives him a little taste of power to fulfill the need innate to human beings.

The Winners Effect [2]

In a world ever challenging with immense competition around, the millennial today does not get a lot of victory moments. According to Ian H. Robertson, a cognitive neuroscientist – “Winning increases the dopamine receptors in the brain, which makes you smarter and bolder” i.e. in-game challenges and victory helps to secrete one of the happy hormone – dopamine, which results in increased level of confidence.

Escapism OR Not

Certain game genres appeal to target segment distinct on the basis of psychographic attributes. While on one hand, an introvert may find comfort in avoiding a conversation by completely concentrating on his game; on the other hand, he might be less awkward in being friends with the fellow gamer he met through social feature of that game. Therefore, the personal need to remain distant and social need to interact can be fulfilled in the world of gaming.

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2.1 billion People in the world are playing video games. The average number of years a gamer has been playing games is 13 [3]. This level of retention is every marketer’s dream city to be in.

Spent one year trying to figure out the advertising opportunities and hence, below are a few insights, purely by a marketer’s perspective:

Be Native To Content

In a world that has been exposed to immense in-your-face banner, the best way to create a sub-conscious effect on the gamer (potential buyer of the product we’re selling) is to be part of the content a consumer choose to interact with. Let it be minimal, but relevant. There’s a lot more to in-game advertising than interstitial & video.

Find The Right Fit

Understanding the gamer audience is imperative. Your target audience and the game genre target audience should coincide, obviously! Hence, knowing the game in and out in order to understand the player psyche will go a long way. For example, it makes a lot of sense for a fashion E-commerce retailer like Myntra to advertise & be inclusive with the content in Alia Bhatt: Star Life but not in Chhota Bheem.

Metric: Consideration

Do not get disappointed when the clicks/final purchase are not coming through games. The metric should not be CPA but CPI. You, as a brand should be focusing on making a solid space in the consideration set of the consumer. Simple reason – the gamer is not going to pause a game and buy. You might not be able to measure the impact but then, trust the process.

Video games do not work like other entertainment media for one simple reason – ‘participation’. The gamer audience do not just indulge, they interact. It’s hard to understand why a medium with such level of potency is highly unexplored.

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