‘Chocolate covered broccoli’ destroying games as brands try to capture consumers

Corporates are “hijacking” game design with “chocolate-covered broccoli”  as they use games to lure consumers to their brands, psychologist and creator of the Digital Nutrition framework Jocelyn Brewer has said.

Brewer told an audience at Mumbrella’s Marketing Science Ideas Xchange criticism of  “gamification”, applying elements of game play to other activities, comes from the “corporate hijacking of game design.”

MSIX Jocelyn Brewer

Jocelyn Brewer, psychologist, Digital Nutrition speaking at MSIX conference.

“Consumers are increasingly aware of the attempts of brands to do this and therefore shun it,” Brewer said.

“It’s seen as a bit lame and inauthentic and part of this comes from the idea that we are increasing our literacy around brands and information and reading the digital landscape to look for what actions people are trying to get us to do in the space.”

Brewer said marketers were aware of children as a target on digital platforms, using the analogy of “chocolate covered broccoli” to describe the marketing tactics they were using to lure them to their brands.

‘With the Australian gaming industry currently worth $2.5b, she said engagement and intention were still big challenges for the market.

“Engagement is fleeting and this is one of the biggest challenges,” she said.

“Intention is increasingly a commodity which is sold in that digital space.”

The Australian Gaming market is worth

The Australian Gaming market is worth $2.5 billion.

Commenting on the problems with gamifying brands, Brewer said: “Some of the problems I see around gamification are around the simplicity of what happens in a gamification space. It works on rewards and punishments and a very simple (user) conditioning set up.

“It uses extrinsic motivation (what the brand wants you to do) to motivate the behaviour. It adds the game elements onto an existing product so it’s just chucking something on the top, rather than being developed from the core. And the rewards are relatively simple and short term,” she said.

Brewer also said marketers “tokenise social relationships by forcing virality of interactions.”

She said the downfall of Pokemon Go was a perfect example of gamification and its failure.

pokemon go water

“Basically it was gamified rather than game-fully designed and had an unskilled and shallow battle experience,” she said.

Pokemon Go went from a peak of 27m downloads to 700,000 since its launch earlier this year and the downfall sparked debate about where Pokemon went wrong.

Other reasons Brewer gave for its failure were “lots of grind for very little reward,” the excessive use of data, draining user’s batteries and Niantic’s failure to communicate with customers.

Brewer said the key for marketers to create successful games included intrinsic motivation, a focus on the player and a game built from the ground up.

“Gameplay should be centred on the player, and the player is a complex human not a chemical machine that has a bunch of dopamine pathways that you can press,” she said.


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