Thursday, July 03, 2008

Game on: Interactive bloodsport

In this US election year, budget politics will no doubt be flogged by candidates to support--or even inform--their positions. But if there's lies, damn lies, and statistics, how is an average Jeff or Jane to grapple with the complex tradeoffs between statistics, politics and the demands of the real world to gain some understanding?

American Public Media has used interactive gaming to help generic you's and me's understand the tradeoffs involved...and why sometimes it's easier to talk about budgets than to take action. Their game, Budget Hero, outlines several common positions and asks players to assign their values and priorities to spending and taxing...then it calculates the impact of pursuing your priorities...not perfect, but thought provoking...

So what? What does this have to do with marketing...or new media...or the price of corn?

It is, to me anyway, exemplary of the power of games to help engage complex subjects at an individual level. As marketers, games have held an obvious place in promotional trade shows + carnivals (redundant, sorry). But combined with the power of data and computing, games can serve well in engaging prospects with more complex or controversial brand, how does one product work...better?

There are lots of great examples out there. Here are links to a couple of brand-education games: can you tell what the Brand Learnstitutors would have us know?

Here (we did this for a client)

Here (one of our client's competitors)

And for science buffs (or those interested in visualizing the ripple effect of policy decisions), here's a great look at the power of Chain Reactions

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