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Earn your badge for social and gaming success

Earn your badge for social and gaming success Dave Curry

With geolocation basking in the spotlight, it might be easy for marketers to overlook some key shared principles that both Foursquare and Gowalla use to keep their users excited and engaged. These principles tap into something already familiar to those of us in the business of video game marketing -- the magnetic power of gaming. Based on a recent

Gaming is pervasive
You might not realize it, but gaming is a common thread in the fabric of our daily lives. It isn't just isolated to consoles, phones, and web browsers. Gaming has crept into our mainstream reality and, in the case of Foursquare and Gowalla, has been added right on top of our everyday routine.

Remember the Tamagotchi virtual pet craze of 1997? Today, the Ford Fusion hybrid car comes with a virtual pet -- in the form of a tangled leafy vine -- in its dashboard display to encourage light-footed driving. Your personal plant pal grows or recedes based on the efficiency of your driving, a sort of digital reward meant to steer behavior and make the driver feel more responsible and green.

In California, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District got into the game by comparing energy usage amongst a random selection of 35,000 neighbors. Consumers with low usage received smiley faces on their bill, while those who didn't perform as well as their neighbors received up to four frowny faces on their bill. The SMUD, after conducting an assessment of the program, found that players (with smileys and frowns on their bills) reduced consumption 2 percent more than non-players.

Marketers, listen up!
Everyone loves to reference, ad nauseam (pun intended), the "Minority Report" scenes portraying CRM in the year 2054, but it's now clear that the movie got it all wrong. Glossy displays barking tag lines at a disconcerted Tom Cruise are not a recipe for success. But had Mr. Cruise unlocked a free pair Chinos for his 10th visit to the Gap, his attention might have been captured. (Maybe not, though; he was on the lam after all.)

Marketers would do well to think broadly about how the world of gaming, achievement, and play can add value and longevity to their digital campaigns.

Consider "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution." Jamie's mission is honorable, and I fully support the food revolution, but one cannot help but wonder the impact a dash of gaming might have on the mix. There is a state-by-state

Dave has more than a decade of interactive under his belt, creating works for hundreds of clients including Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, The Metropolitan Opera, and Target. His work has been recognized in the Print Interactive Annual,...

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