5 Lessons Researchers can Learn from the Gaming Industry

Charlotte Evans

Pitch It: The Business Case for Customer Salience

As insight experts, we understand the power of insights, their inherent value in key decision-making...


Emily James

    Whether you are a gamer or not, there’s no avoiding the success of the video gaming industry. And it’s fair to say that this success hasn’t gone unnoticed across all of the other industries worldwide. Excitingly, in the UK alone, the gaming industry has contributed enormously to our economy and it’s pleasing to see that this is set for a continued growth.

    I have to admit, I’m not a gamer, but my observation of the video gaming industry is ruled largely by the industry’s leadership in digital innovation. For starters, fully-rendered virtual worlds, augmented reality and high-definition graphics are fascinating to behold. So, with recognition towards the industry’s success, what exactly can insight professionals pay attention to, in order to help replicate this success for the market research industry?

    Whether you're a gamer or not, there's no avoiding the success of the video game industry. What exactly can insight professionals learn from their success to replicate this success within the market research industry?

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    Whether you're a gamer or not, there's no avoiding the success of the video game industry. What exactly can researchers learn from their success to replicate this success within the market research industry?

    1. The Impact of Storytelling

    For some, the compelling attraction of video games, often centres around a story-driven plot. By incorporating a compelling narrative combined with a gaming journey, the popularity of narrative formats has accelerated. As a striking example, the Japanese made video game, Danganronpa, has shown to achieve success from its captivating detective narrative, which became popular due to its rich character detail.

    Undeniably, there is a lot that insight professionals can learn from the impact of storytelling. For starters, storytelling is a positive reminder of how insight should be reported to enable memorable key takeaways to be shared amongst stakeholders. While enticing visuals and descriptive findings offer a good starting point for embracing storytelling, video can be just as effective too. Video can be viewed as an engaging medium for presenting findings and presents an exciting advantage for insight professionals. By simply inviting research participants to share their thoughts in a video format, it not only enables a more responsive participation, but also allows impactful insight to be captured.

    2. Gamification Tools and Techniques

    Gamification is a term which has propelled its way into a variety of industries, with the research industry being no exception. As a principle, gamification aims to integrate gaming elements into non-gaming scenarios in an attempt to increase an individual’s motivation to take part and engage in specific activities. Positively, insight professionals have adopted gamification tactics such as progress bars, virtual currencies and point systems, which can all be viewed as beneficial for improving the experience of respondents’ participation.

    However, while many attempts have been made to incorporate these into research, I still believe we are yet to see an effective and impactful optimisation of gamification. Instead, I think insight professionals’ should supercharge their gamification practices by combining them with high definition graphics. Just imagine, if your survey’s progress bar was transformed from its simplistic linear design, into a virtual character which shows its movement towards the unlocking of its next quest! This might sound a tad eccentric, but there have already been steps taken within the insights industry towards this type of gamification of research, and multiple integrations of video gaming elements have proven to unlock the potential for increased survey response rates.

    3. Engaging Communities

    During the last decade, technological disruptions such as social media have dramatically broken down societal constructs like a perceived sense of belonging and social connections. Considering these significant psychological needs, video gaming has successfully demonstrated its greatest ability to leverage these needs by offering multi-player games. Video games such as League of Legends and World of Warcraft, each offer a realm of collective game play, and by doing so, more and more gamers continue to turn to virtual worlds which consequently enable them to fulfil their need for social interactions with others.

    When executed correctly, insight professionals (as well as brands) can work to stimulate these psychological needs through the creation of online brand communities. Their creation can promote interaction and engagement amongst its members which not only helps restore societal needs, but also generates insight about a brand. To illustrate, the beauty brand, Sephora, is an excellent demonstration of a brand that has promoted a sense of belonging amongst its beauty users. Through their online Beauty Insider forum, Sephora’s customers have used the platform to become online beauty influencers by sharing their own beauty techniques with each other. Therefore, by sustaining micro-interactions it ultimately fosters a sense of belonging amongst its community members. To add, Sephora can also leverage user generated content to unlock insight and to aid the continual success of their brand.

    4. Virtual Reality and Immersion Tactics

    A major strength of the gaming industry has been its rapid adoption of innovative technologies such as virtual reality (VR). It’s undeniable that VR has radically redefined the experience gaming offers, mainly due to the creation of artificial worlds that gamers can fully immerse themselves in. For those not so familiar with VR’s application, it essentially syncs users’ VR headset technology to interactive games and ultimately stimulates an immersive environment though audio and visual means.

    One VR game that has consistently caught my eye is, Beat Saber. As a musical beat-based game, Beat Saber showcased their capabilities of using VR technology while attracting users that rightfully crowned them, in 2018, the best VR/AR game. One major benefit of VR technology over other more traditional research methods is that, VR can deliver real-time insight into consumer behaviour. This has proven to be a particularly successful approach within the retail industry, which has used VR to capture valuable insights through stimuli testing concepts such as store designs. There are even more advanced VR headsets which facilitates precision eye-tracking while supporting simulations to help brands retain valuable insight.

    5. ‘Incentivised Participation’ Doesn’t Always Mean Money

    Gamers participate in gaming for a variety of reasons, but financial incentives are regularly one of the main appeals amongst players who frequently enter competitions. As a lucrative element of gaming, the e-sports industry has transformed gaming into a platform which financially incentivises players for their participation. This involves the organisation of gaming competitions across the globe, which invite players to compete for a world champion title. The popularity of games such as League of Legends, Mario Kart and most recently, Fortnite, have leveraged opportunities for players to compete.

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    The amount of techniques from the gaming industry that can be applied to market research is surprising, but is a great reminder that we should never stop looking outside of our industry for strategic innovation.

    This year, the financial benefits of gaming were seen at the Fortnite World Cup where a competitor, Kyle Giersdorf, was crowned the world champion and awarded £2.4 million pounds for his victory. While I’m not suggesting research professionals should offer huge sums of money for respondents’ participation, I do want to bring your attention to participants’ motivations to take part in research studies. An adaptive approach could be taken to incentivise participants, and one incentive that I believe is particularly effective, is to keep research community members updated about how their contributions are used. For example, if a new product is developed based on members’ feedback, details of this can be shared within the community, providing recognition for members’ efforts.

    Insights from the Gaming Industry

    There are a whole range of lessons insight professionals can learn from the gaming industry. With areas such as virtual reality, gamification and storytelling just scratching the surface, it is a good reminder that insight professionals should look beyond the research industry for innovative solutions. The gaming industry will always spark excitement and intrigue, and with developers continually teasing ever more gaming innovations, this will certainly be an industry that insight professionals can look to for advancing their capabilities.

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