Advertising Week Europe

Advertising Week Europe 2017 Official Guide

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Page 165 of 299

PURPOSE In an information-saturated world, media competition is fierce. Rather than battling it out for eyeballs, some companies are trying a different route: capturing the market for usership. The gaming industry brings in more than $650 million in revenue monthly. Globally, people spend more than 3 billion hours a week playing games on mobile devices. "The amazing thing about games is that you can reach such a diverse audience," says Susanna Pollack, President of Games for Change, which facilitates the distribu- tion of social-impact games that serve as humanitarian and/or educational tools. "You're looking at 63 percent of American households where at least one person plays games, 41 percent of whom are female, with an average age of 35. Just think what we could do if we could harvest the attention of even a small percentage of those people." Like others in the gaming industry, Pollack believes the medium is poised to become the Next Big Thing. A growing body of re- search suggests that the games people play influence the way they think and act, so companies see an opportunity to use the platform to tackle complex social issues. GAMING FOR GOOD Can video games help solve the world's most pressing problems? by Julia Savacool A great example is "Half the Sky," a Facebook game based on the best-selling book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn that was also made into a PBS series. Players make decisions that have real-world impli- cations: Virtually collecting books for girls in remote areas triggers a real-life donation by partnering companies to the nonprofit Room to Read. Since its launch in 2013, "Half the Sky" has engaged 1.3 million players and raised more than half a million dollars. The ability of games to contribute to the greater good can be partly attributed to the real-time feedback players receive, says Pollack. "Games provide an opportunity for people to play with the information they receive," she explains. "Gamers have an in- herent desire to reach the next level. To do that, you have to make the right choices on important social issues. If you fail, you im- mediately try again. The reinforcement loop is strong." That feedback can be used to make a positive impact on people's health as well. HopeLab, a technology company in California, created "Re-Mission" and "Re- Mission 2," video games that help children stricken with cancer improve their qual- ity of life. In the game, players climb inside the body of a cancer patient and use various treatments to fight it. Studies found a mea- surable effect on players' health, primarily because the interactive experience encour- aged them to take a more proactive role in their own treatment. The success of impactful gaming ties into something advertisers have long known: You can hit a person over the head with the same message and it still won't stick; but package it in an engaging and entertaining format, and not only will they remember it, they'll believe it, too. "It doesn't have to be light, and it doesn't have to be funny," as- serts Pollack. "But it does have to engage the user in a way that makes him want to come back for more." And that, it seems, is for the good of everyone. "The amazing thing about games is that you can reach such a diverse audience." AWE 2017 164

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