The term “Gamification” – the use of game elements in non-game contexts – was coined by Nick Pelling in 2003 and you’re right, there’s nothing new about it. What’s new is that, while companies around the world are finding it challenging to implement this concept, an Agency based in Mauritius, Panda & Wolf Holding, has recently released Eco-warriors™: “the first-ever Ecological game to be launched under UNESCO’s patronage across Africa.” This game comes as a lasting sustainable solution to creating awareness among 6-11-year-olds regarding environmental issues like deforestation, waste pollution, overconsumption, etc.
Netlab sat down with Veda Dean, Co-Founder of Panda& Wolf Holding to understand:
- The ideation process behind Eco-warriors™
- How Gamification can potentially revolutionize companies’ marketing strategies
- Why Mauritius is late in catching the train of technological evolution
Netlab (NL): How would you describe the ideation process you’ve been through to release an application, which brings so much value to its users? What has been your source of inspiration and how long have you been working on Eco-Warriors™ before you actually launched it?
Veda Dean (V.D): In terms of Game Design and Development process, we first had to know what was the goal of the game, know who we are making the game for (target audience) and how to pass the right message according to the audience and their psychology. We understood that Children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old have a different thinking process compared to Adults and the way the children understand the ‘Reward System’ is more unique. The ‘Action to Reward’ process for an Adult will be different compared to a Child based game like Eco-Warriors™, it will be difficult to retain the attention of adults compared to kids that are hooked to it. And an Adult based game for a Child would be too complex to comprehend and retain their attention. By taking these factors into consideration, the Ideation for Eco-Warriors™ was designed. We were inspired by 2D Platform games such as Super Mario which has been an iconic game, dominating every arcade and household since 1985. Also, we were inspired by Simple forms and Vibrant colors whose attractiveness interest Kids to interact. Simpler forms help kids recognize Characters faster while Vibrant colors are attractive to kids because their eyes are not fully developed yet and thus distinguish bright and contrasting colors better in their field of vision as compared to fainter colors. By researching in-depth upon these qualities, we started to work on Eco-Warriors™ a year Ago (September 2018) with a team of 4 people comprising of A lead Developer, a Junior Developer, Character and Asset Designer, and 2D Concept Artist that we had to train before. As a team, we had daily rigorous Brainstorming session before implementing even the tiniest of elements and actions such as how the characters need to be designed, their hairstyle, their skin color, their posture, background designs that must align with the Island scenery but also the coordination with the content and information we got from the primary school teachers who helped us craft the history and geography story of the game. We had to develop the characters and design elements in such a way that the developers/programmers could easily manipulate the actions and coding behind these elements. For instance, the Solitaire bird in the game has been made to start an interaction in the game only after meeting (Seeking help) from the protagonist – Adding the History to the story.
NL: According to you, how can gamification – defined as the application of game design
principles to change behavior in non-gaming contexts – potentially revolutionize companies’ marketing strategy?
V.D: While a marketing strategy based on gamification offers tremendous opportunities, it requires a good understanding of the company’s customer base and what motivates those customers to behave in the manner desired by the company. The main game elements used in such
scenarios are points, badges, and leaderboards – rewards. If used effectively, these game design elements can be employed by marketers to incentivize user-behavior, encourage users to increase their engagement levels, and deepen the bonds of loyalty to the brand. For instance, with Eco Warriors™, kids who play the game collect points upon recycling the plastic on the islands. Further, these points are rewarded when the character increases level leading them to receive a physical Eco-Warriors™ Collector Book. The reward system pushes them further to continue the habit of picking up plastic each time when putting in situations with such pollutants.
Another example would be that of Starbucks Reward Program which helps boost Starbucks
NL: Do you know of any Mauritian company, which has leveled-up its marketing strategies with gamification? An international benchmark?
It is a challenge to find someone who understands your vision. That could be the downside of being the Pioneers because Panda & Wolf Holding has always been the First in every AdTech Solution that has been implemented in Mauritius since 2017. Tech solutions such as NFC (Tap To Pay, Tap to Transfer), Augmented Reality, Discover MauritiusTM, The Organic Farmers Market or Gamecon 2019; all of these projects have been, for the very first time introduced to the Island. Certainly, there are quite a few people who understand the advent of technology and thus, understand these concepts, but none have been able to concretize and implement it yet.
Besides, for us, being the first ones to introduce such innovations not only at a regional but also at an International level with the UNESCO Patronage, it is an Opportunity and a privilege. We have to understand that, what was considered innovative 10 years ago, is now being introduced as ‘New’ in Mauritius. And also, due to globalization, more and more companies have started to introduce various tech solutions but none so far in Gamification. We would be more than happy to offer Gamification solutions either for marketing or for recruitment/training to any Mauritian companies needing it.
NL: As any seasoned marketer knows, before you dive headfirst into gamified marketing, there
are a couple of things you need to think about first? What would be your top 3 pieces of advice to them?
V.D: Even though the use of gamification by businesses is increasing, each business needs to determine whether a gamified-marketing strategy is appropriate. For Gamification to be appropriate, the 3 main things that need to be considered are:
– The Goals,
– Product/Service and
– Target audience.
NL: Do you believe that Mauritian companies are fully aware of the potential of gamification?
V.D: Definitely No. Already people do not understand the use of Websites and even less about Mobile Apps that the concept of Gamification and game-based learning or other forthcoming Tech solutions are perceived as too ‘far-fetched’ for most of the people here. Mauritius is always late in catching the train of technological evolution as mainly, the majority of Decision-makers and higher management are above 40 years old. Hence, for them, traditional methods such as Billboards and print media still work because that is what they learned in their time. This is still being applied today in 2019 where a majority of revenue is wasted in Billboards and Print Ads, on which you cannot even measure your ROI (without counting the carbon footprint of Traditional ads today!). The contentment of people seeing your advertisement on Billboard and Print is enough for them. The question that they do not ask is how many people who are seeing these ads, are actually interacting with your Business? Or How ecological are these ads? (The irony is when you see a billboard or printed ads, that talk about environmental protection)–
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