1 (800) 908-6326

Is Game Design The Future of Marketing?

In recent years, between console wars and massive multiplayer online games (MMOs), the gaming industry has boomed. Consequently, the practice of game design has also attracted more attention. At the heart of game design is the art of interactive storytelling, and that art is also at the heart of several other practices. For marketers, there’s much that can be learned from the study of game design theory, how it has been applied to other fields, and how it can be applied to ours.

In this excellent presentation at the DICE Summit this year, Jesse Schell examines the question of what happens when game design theory is applied to other fields of study. In an example of game design applied to schooling, Jesse presents fellow game designer and University of Indiana professor Lee Sheldon as a sort of case study:

School is a game right? You go, you get scored, you come out, there’s a leaderboard etc. He doesn’t give out grades anymore; he gives out experience points, and you level up through the class. And so class attendance is up. Class participation is up. Homework is turned in often and better, because it’s a better structure, a better system.

While I doubt many of our readers are professional game designers, or even teachers, many of you are marketers. So, how can we learn to implement these types of systems, these games, into our marketing strategies? What game design theory can we learn from before heedlessly introducing points, challenges, and contests into our tactics?

Early in their book Rules of Play (hat tip Big Spaceship), authors Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman describe  their three primary schemata for viewing the study of game design:

  • RULES contains formal game design schemata that focus on the essential logical and mathematical structures of a game.
  • PLAY contains experiential, social, and representational game design schemata that foreground the player’s participation with the game and with other players.
  • CULTURE contains contextual game design schemata that investigate the larger cultural contexts within which games are designed and played.

In many ways, these three overarching categories describe every marketing campaign. Each implementation lives within the context of logical limitations, social incentives and barriers, and the cultural identity and behaviors of those exposed to it.

There are clear cross-overs between marketing and game design, and behind each of these schemata are valuable lessons that will help marketers create better systems, systems that lend themselves to a better customer experience and influence customer behavior positively.

If you have any insights on game design theory, examples of great game design applied to marketing, or just want to leave some feedback, please leave a comment or send us a tweet.


  1. March 22, 2010 @ 10:24 pm

    […] Is Game Design The Future of Marketing? neboblog […]

  2. March 04, 2013 @ 8:35 am

    top notchworkdesigningthissiteitiscleanadding this to my bebo

  3. August 25, 2013 @ 3:00 pm
    Dirndl says:

    Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog article.Thanks Again. Cool.

  4. January 08, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

    Usually I don’t read post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, very nice post.

  5. July 02, 2014 @ 8:54 am

    I wish to show appreciation to the writer for bailing me out of this particular predicament. Right after checking through the search engines and finding ways that were not productive, I figured my entire life was done. Being alive devoid of the approaches to the issues you’ve fixed as a result of your article is a critical case, and the kind that would have in a negative way damaged my entire career if I had not come across your web site. Your personal know-how and kindness in taking care of all the things was invaluable. I am not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t come across such a solution like this. I can at this time relish my future. Thanks very much for this reliable and result oriented guide. I will not think twice to refer your web blog to any individual who would like direction on this subject.

  6. July 17, 2014 @ 6:04 am

    Everybody desires to win the lottery, however, most of folks do not even have a one blessed number on the ticket. So how does one maximize your likelihood of succeeding? Well, typically, inadvertently. The greater lottery tickets you have,the more fortune favor’s you. But there are several folks who believe there is certainly much more to it than that.

  7. April 26, 2015 @ 5:26 pm

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this outstanding blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will talk about this site with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

  8. October 20, 2015 @ 4:55 am

    You are my aspiration , I own few blogs and sometimes run out from to post .

  9. January 29, 2016 @ 11:04 am

    I do accept as true with all of the ideas you’ve introduced to your post. They’re really convincing and will definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are very brief for newbies. May you please extend them a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

  10. May 29, 2016 @ 9:29 pm

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  11. August 19, 2016 @ 9:00 am

    Just wanna input on few general things, The website pattern is perfect, the content is rattling excellent : D.

  12. August 19, 2016 @ 9:00 am

    Some truly fantastic info , Gladiolus I observed this. “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” by Mark Twain.