The Ad Council recently launched an effort we are calling “Game for Good” to connect gamers with our campaign messages. You might be thinking, “Why would the Ad Council want to get into the video game space?” The answer is because most people play and enjoy games – whether they play on a console, phone, or even a board game or cards with friends. eSports or live gaming tournaments are now big business crossing over into linear television and attracting major brand sponsors. It’s also because the Ad Council is always looking to reach people with our social good messages on new and emerging platforms. Consider these statistics:
- 63 percent of American households have at least one person who plays video games regularly (three or more hours a week).
- The average male video game player is 35 years old and the average female video game player is 44 years old.
- 54 percent of video game players report playing video games with others – showing the increasingly social nature of game play.
- And on YouTube, 6 of the top 10 influencers are game broadcasters.
Gamers have also used their influence and reach to benefit non-profit organizations. Twitch streamers have raised millions for children’s charities, while PewDiePie and Maker Studios recently launched Revelmode with an effort to raise money for the Crisis Text Line, which supports people struggling with mental health issues.
Before we launched Game for Good, we talked with lots of companies in the video game space, attended E3, the big gaming expo produced by the Entertainment Software Association, and began to learn about what makes this space unique. We wanted to share some preliminary takeaways on AdLibbing for other social marketers who may be considering using video games for good.
Learn about the CONS (not negatives)
Gaming culture and “geek culture” in general love to congregate. Contrary to the stereotype that gamers don’t leave their parents’ basements, there are massive live gaming events throughout the year that attract hundreds of thousands of gamers and fans. Whether it’s Comic-Con, which is now in several cities, RTX (gaming production company Rooster Teeth’s annual conference), Dragon Con, or PAX (Penny Arcade Expo), gamers love to gather in person and play together, discover what’s new and next in the games they love, and dress as their favorite characters (cosplay). We launched our Game for Good effort with an activation for the Ad Council’s Love Has No Labels campaign at PAX West in Seattle. We were able to share our message of celebrating diversity and inclusion in the gaming world – “to love gaming is to love all gamers”—with an audience of roughly 20,000 people a day over the four-day conference. We gave out 5,000 buttons and hundreds of t-shirts, but most importantly had hundreds of conversations with people we wanted to reach in person, which were then amplified on social media with the hashtag #LoveHasNoLabels.
Find a guide…who games
If you don’t play and love video games, it’s going to be challenging for you to really understand what motivates gamers. You could buy a console and try to start playing or attempt to watch hours of gaming streams on Twitch (we tried both!), but given the statistics above, chances are you have a real gamer in your organization. Find that person. Let that person be your guide to help translate who and what’s popular and why. We tapped someone on our analytics team who games and recruited him to help us with our gaming activation at PAX. He advised on our creative, identified who cosplayers were dressed as, and helped us understand the most popular games without having to play them.
Gaming influencers are not like other influencers
The Ad Council has done a lot of work with popular influencers on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine through our Creators for Good program launched over a year ago. Many of these creators produce their own shows that are either sketch comedy, personal video blogging, fashion/beauty tips, or how to’s. The most popular influencers in the video game space play games for an audience, period. They talk about the game they’re playing, talk to their guests who are playing the same game or chat to fans who are watching them play games. The format is different. While many of the top gaming influencers are on various social channels and post videos on YouTube, the most popular format is livestreaming and the platform of choice for gamers is Twitch (right now). To pitch a streamer, you have to understand the format, the games they like to play, and how they interact with their audience. Part of the reason gamers have been so successful at raising money for children’s charities, is because reaching a dollar goal in a short amount of time is kind of like a game – a challenge – and reaching it is winning.
As we continue to expand our presence in the video game space, we will share more of what we learn on AdLibbing. Next up, we’ll focus on the massive mobile gaming space, which has pushed gaming into the mainstream and is attracting women in droves. If you work in the gaming space and want to join our effort, send us an email. We’d love to hear from you.