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Without a doubt, social distancing and other social norms made inevitable by the current pandemic are accelerating the growth of gaming and e-sports – and not just in the way that you might think. Sure, we all have more downtime in our lives these days as we spend more time at home, and that means many of us are turning to gaming as a way to spend more time socially with others. However, beyond the purely entertainment value of gaming, there are also several ways that gaming is helping to transform the remote work experience and helping businesses stay afloat while their physical, brick-and-mortar presence remains on hold.
Engaging and motivating remote employees
One overlooked area of this trend toward gaming and e-sports is how businesses are integrating gaming functionality right into the fabric of their overall business organization, and sometimes right into how everyday business takes place. For example, the CES show in Las Vegas in 2020 recently highlighted how one company was using the game “Red Dead Redemption” (an action-adventure game from 2010) to transform how meetings take place virtually. Team members hold meetings and conferences around a virtual campfire, and then ride off into the distance on their horses once the event is over. This helps to transform an otherwise staid event into something that is fun and engaging.
Let’s face it – we all live virtually these days, and the companies that will have the advantage in the future will be those that find creative ways to link together all of their remote employees into a cohesive team. If it means engaging them in a virtual gaming world or letting employees take on creative new avatars as they livestream gaming events, then so be it. Using Twitch, for example, is one way to include employees in a massive, multi-player virtual experience that is more engaging then just sending out emails or text messages.
Attracting new customers
Moreover, gaming can become part of your new customer acquisition strategy. Tourism companies, for example, can use gaming experiences to let potential customers explore exotic locations they otherwise might not explore (or that have just opened up after the COVID-19 lockdown). One example here is how the popular game “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” now has a new “Discovery Tour” that lets gamers explore ancient Egypt without worrying about fighting their way through all kinds of combatants. “Discovery Tour” is really more like a virtual museum that gamers can explore at their own leisure in order to learn more about Egypt. This same approach can be used for just about any real-world or physical business. And the best part about all this is that it’s an easy way to attract young gamers already playing these games.
Keeping current customers
And don’t forget about your current customers and fans. What are you doing to keep them engaged and motivated during the pandemic? With face-to-face interactions on the decline, and with many physical, real-world events cancelled or postponed indefinitely, now is the time to embrace gaming experiences to engage fans. Just look at how professional sports teams embraced e-sports during the lockdown. Some leagues even held their own e-sports championships with pro athletes while the real action couldn’t take place on the field, on the ice or on the court.
So why not think about sponsoring gaming competitions, meeting gaming “influencers,” or finding other creative ways to build momentum and excitement for existing customers? At the most recent 2020 CES event, gaming was the #3 most popular topic on the tech agenda, and new innovations from areas like virtual reality are helping to make gaming experiences more fun, more dynamic and more immersive.
Now, of course, a gaming strategy is not for everyone. It really depends on your target audience. But the reality is that, according to some estimates, there are 192 million gamers in the United States alone – that’s about one in every two Americans! Gaming is mainstream now, and especially so in the COVID-19 era. So what are you waiting for? Now is the time for businesses to go all-in on a gaming strategy to engage current employees working remotely, attract new customers, and pivot away from real-world conferences and events to ones held virtually in the gaming world.