Thursday, July 29, 2010

Game-based Marketing

This book, by Gabe Zichermann and Joselin Linder, is meant as a introduction to the idea of using game mechanics as marketing tools, and it does an admirable job of introducing the idea, and examining many examples. As a game designer, I wished there were more details about what really works (for example -- what are best practices for giving out airline miles? Why?) and a bit less speculation about what might work. Personally, I'm always interested in the lessons from real examples, because so many of the ideas we come up with have some fatal flaw that was not obvious until we tried to deploy the game. Oh -- and the authors insist on calling the use of game mechanics in marketing "funware", a phrase that I find inappropriate partly because not all games are designed to be "fun" (some are merely meant to be challenging, compelling, or engaging), and partly because the "ware" part of it implies some kind of tangible mechanism, a la "hardware" or "software", when often these games are simple sets of rules. But that's just me quibbling.

Anyway -- in short, the book is a good introduction to spark your imagination, but if you are looking for details about best practices for implementing games for marketing and advertising, you'll need to look elsewhere.


  1. Any recommendations for the best elsewhere to look?

  2. what books do you recommend fill in the gaps ?

  3. Jesse - thanks for the review and feedback.

    We did intend the book to make a dent in the imagination department - and we targeted it squarely at strategic marketers (versus game people). I'm glad that it had the desired effect. Of course, not everything can go in the first text; by way of example, we still don't really know *why* operant conditioning works, we just know it does. :)

    When folks are looking for a deeper understanding of the game design toolkit, my sense is that they want to buy a book like Lenses (your book). In fact, Amazon suggest lots of people are doing that (our books are bought together frequently).

    Meanwhile, we're filling in the gaps on the blog - - including lots of current case studies that we analyze and connect to best practices. Today, for example, we're looking at the Facebook help system and its nascent point/level architecture (they just released it last week). Things are moving fast!!

    Thanks again!

    Author, Game-Based Marketing