Most scientific theories hold that playing games are beneficial for improving our cognitive and social skills. Moreover, these educative and psychological theories explain that active and interactive game playing or gamification process is one of the most effective knowledge transference mechanisms, with particular cognitive processes occurring when a subject is participating. However, what happens when this participant is just an observer?
Passive gamification can be defined as the act of processing information by observing others playing or participating in a gamification process. If we observe some of the most successful entertainment TV programs, we can see that most of them are grounded in a gamification process. As a case in point, ‘Masterchef’ and ‘The Voice’ are examples of how talent shows attract large passive audiences using this type of strategy. Considering this, it is hard to understand why there is not a broad range of commercial mechanisms exploiting these kinds of programs. In fact, this narrative has just been commercialized using traditional methods, such as product placement or sponsorship, leaving aside other interesting ways of making profits.
One such new advertising strategy is Branded Content, which consists of using fiction plot content for disseminating abstract ideas related to brand missions, such as living dangerously, “be sophisticated” or “carpe diem”. The Hire produced by BMW or Famed and Dangerous by Chiplote Mexican Grill or also Redbull TV are significant examples of how Branded Content works. Thus, it raises a logical new question; might we apply Branded Content strategies to passive gamification?
In my opinion, the answer is a clear yes.
In fact, passive gamification is an optimal methodology for Branded Content strategies. It is not hard to imagine a car brand producing a TV program consisting of building a car with the aim of showing its good qualities or a public TV station creating a TV game where the participants have to run a city as an example of how hard it is managing the public administration. These two programs have different consequences on their audience; the first one can convince the viewer of some great characteristics of one specific car model; and the second one creates empathy between the public worker and the citizen. Two completely different type of production, however, with the same objective; inculcate a particular course of conduct to the viewer.
Lau Delgado, 2016.