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Parallel Worlds

Engaging gamers authentically will be key to future growth, says George Gottl.
4 August, 2021
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Games are parallel worlds with different sets of values and aspirations that can vary widely from game to game. A deep understanding of these is essential to speak with gamers in their virtual society.

Brands need to work out what game or gaming organisation is most relevant to their brand ethos, values and audience. They need to observe and understand what the values and social currency of that game is, who the aspirational individuals within it are - both real and virtual - and why they are aspirational.

Then, they need to work out what they can genuinely offer that's of benefit to the game’s community, just as they might do when launching physical stores in a new market or territory. This could be anything from helping to make the experience more realistic to giving users access to new content or augmenting existing features or services within the game.

We Are Social’s Pride-themed island for Animal Crossing gave users the opportunity to celebrate Pride virtually during the pandemic.

Empowering users to host their own Pride parade within the game showed how brands can contribute to a game’s community in a way that rings true for users.

The Getty Museum made famous pieces from its collection available to Animal Crossing users - allowing them to express themselves virtually while embedding the brand more deeply in popular culture.

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It’s key to understand the cultural vernacular of a particular game and communicating within those parameters. For instance, dating app Bumble co-founded an all-female esports team for Fortnite, reflecting its focus on female empowerment. It’s crucial to develop an in-game presence that contributes to the unique ecosystem of the game, preferably by allowing users to express themselves within the system of codes and semiotics already established.

A barrier to achieving this for many brands is that the level of creativity on gaming platforms is extremely high so they need to either match it, or exceed it.

Brands need to prioritise hiring people from the gaming world who have the deep insight and knowledge needed to create content and experiences that will be of real benefit and relevance to the community within that game.

They need to be far more targeted, nuanced and culturally intelligent in their gaming strategies if they want to truly make the most of the still untapped and infinite opportunities the gaming world has to offer.

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This article was written by Lucy Aitken and originally appeared on the member portal of Cannes Lions: https://www.lionscreativity.com/membership

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