Commentary

Game Theory Key to Sustainability In The New Realm

As the last seconds of 2021 wind down on New Year’s Eve, someone somewhere will pledge to start running. Maybe they just want to lose a few pounds; maybe their doctor suggested it. Weeks later, something is bound to happen. Either that person quits running, tired of the obligatory activity, or they start feeling genuinely better, developing a hunger for the positive effects of exercise.

Such is the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Pushed by outside forces, that runner is less likely to continue; driven by their own enjoyment, they may be a runner for life.

This concept is a key element of game mechanics, which supports the greater role of Applied Game Theory™ (AGT), a sophisticated behavioral science that will further explode within the metaverse.

A new digital sphere

The metaverse is dominating strategic marketing conversations as brands scramble to find a relevant application, many focused on engaging with this new digital concept as quickly as possible. Acting reflexively, however, risks entering the metaverse with an obvious gimmick, not a strategy that will engage customers consistently.

The metaverse is the next iteration of the digital existence we’re already living. Zoom meetings and virtual events have bridged the gap, but they’re still not a face-to-face equivalent. The metaverse aims to impactfully blend the qualities of in-person engagement with the digital sphere. Game theory is the key to making that experience meaningful and sustainable.

Pause...then ask why

Shiny new toy or not, a new digital channel is only as successful as its ability to solve a real user need. Smart brands need to first consider the tangible goal of their metaverse strategy, then make sure the new experience is far superior to what’s currently serving that need.

AGT dictates a 360-degree understanding of a target audience before a single functionality is put into place. Who will be interacting with your platform? What problem are they trying to solve? What motivates them?

Behavioral patterns inform engagement drivers -- game mechanics -- that resonate best. Mechanics might include functions that inspire epic meaning, or they might trigger feelings of loss and avoidance. User experience might be enhanced by a leader board or rewards. Game mechanics enrich user interactions enough to make the metaverse sustainable.

The role of Applied Game Theory

AGT combines behavioral psychology with gameplay mechanics that engage a target audience in a meaningful way. For brands to gain early and lasting traction within the metaverse, they must intentionally build a blueprint around these concepts.

Activated well, a game theory-led strategy offers real value to a target audience, prompting repeated engagement with the system. Mixing extrinsic  and intrinsic and motivators, brands can create an immediate, intense reason to engage with the platform initially, along with sustained feedback and reinforcement to extend that engagement.

Ultimately, AGT is what will draw and retain an audience by providing an impactful experience that solves a real user need, implementing motivators suited to that audience’s behavioral patterns. Make it valuable, make it impactful, make it motivational -- and they will come.

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