Everyone has a role to play in this never ending story

Original post by Ruth Mortimer via Marketing Week

Brands from every sector are paying close attention to gamification – the latest way of giving content a life beyond its original form, says Ruth Mortimer.

Imagine a magical world in which your content never dies, its profit-making ability never comes to an end and no book, film or marketing content ever reaches a final conclusion. Instead, the characters and messages inside live on forever for your customers.

Pottermore, announced last week by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, is a good example of that fantastical world made real. It is a free-to-use digital content ’universe’ incorporating personalised storylines tailored to its users, games and merchandise, backed by Sony. It appears that seven books and eight films are not enough content for Rowling and the Harry Potter brand has more space to grow.

In the words of Rowling: “Pottermore is a way for the creativity to live on and a way for me to be creative on a platform that did not exist when I started writing the books.”

While Rowling may be in it for the creativity, her business partners such as Sony clearly see the commercial benefits of never allowing a story to finish. And they aren’t the only ones using digital techniques to create never-ending content repositories. The ’gamification’ of books, films and even adverts means that brands from Disney to Kellogg are repurposing their intellectual property to have a life beyond its initial form.

To paraphrase influential game developer and entertainment producer Kevin Slavin, what’s different about games from conventional media is that whatever you watch passively is going to be less valuable to you tomorrow as you’ve seen it already. But a game like chess is way more interesting the tenth time you play it than the first.

“It’s a long way from Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean. Most gamification isn’t about creating games, it’s about using the fun techniques of gaming to get things done”

Disney has been working on gamification of its content for some years. Gamification, if you aren’t familiar with the term, means bringing gaming techniques to other forms of content to give it new life. In Disney’s case, this means that consumers do not have to rely on the release of a new Pirates of the Caribbean film to interact with that story. There is a giant virtual world or massively multiplayer online role-playing game where people can take the character’s tales into new places.

The great thing about gamification is that it is not only being used to breathe new life into character-based content like Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean. When we talk about content, it isn’t just entertainment that this trend has an impact on. It is just as or even more relevant for content such as marketing messages and customer data.

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