Sunday morning is the only time that a lot of people actually pick up a newspaper, even if it’s online, and read the comics. There’s a reason you read only some of the comics and religiously skip others – some speak to you and engage your imagination and experiences. And it is specifically that reason why games will cross from screen to your real life – if it hasn’t already done so.
We all know that when students are engaged, they learn better by interacting with the subject matter. The more relevant the material becomes, the more engaged the student becomes and the more likely it is that they will master the content. We learn better by doing. Even if we learn in different ways, we retain the content better and faster by doing something with the material we are trying to learn. The next step in learning is to synthesize the content to reuse it in different ways, or to innovate.
The adoption rate of social media will begin to cool off as the U.S. market will begin to hit a saturation point: We’ll be running out of people to convert to users. To increase usage we have to add a new enticement; a new way of engaging new users and engage the existing users in a whole new way. Like comics, it will have to resonate with people’s experiences and imagination.
In a few weeks, the largest interactive media show in the world, SxSW (pronounced South by Southwest) will open in Austin, Texas. I expect to hear a lot about the evolution of content platforms into, what SCVNGR CEO Seth Priebatsch calls “the gaming layer.” This is a new layer of engagement with more graphics-based content that, as it matures, will add more real-time learning experiences to social media. For now, it will be simple greater engagement through gaming on the web, tablets and especially your mobile devices.
Zynga, a once little gaming company that has a goal of “connecting the world through games” knows the power of engagement. With Farmville and Mafia Wars among its properties, Zynga boasts more than 50 million daily users, mostly using Facebook. Doing it differently, SCVNGR has people interacting on their mobile phones. Or as their web site says, “Go places. Do challenges. Earn points!”
As Zynga engages you in their games, SCVNGR engages you at local establishments and university events. There is now proof the more fun you have interacting in a physical location (like a restaurant), the more likely you are to return. Sure, you get discounts for your loyalty, and you are actually interacting with real people, in person, and everyone using their phone – but not talking to each other on their phone. I know: people talking together, it’s quite a concept. Use your phone to take pictures, check-in to a location as a group, write about what’s happening there – there are numerous challenges and some are really a lot of fun.
Some interaction games are more relevant using GPS features and points, like the crowd-sourcing traffic application Waze. The bottom line is the gaming layer being laid over our social behaviors is in its infancy. This means small companies can learn to leverage the possibilities it offers differently, and benefit from the newness with little risk.
In short, think what makes the people you want to interact with engage with you and you can be as popular as the Sunday comics used to be.