The serious gaming world was an insular one until advances in the mobile industry turned playing video games into a pursuit that transcends gender, age and race. As companies like Snapdragon gave more people access to the best mobile processors for gaming and indy developers started releasing titles at a breakneck pace, mobile gaming became ubiquitous.
Now the multi-billion dollar mobile gaming segment is outperforming consoles and people across industries are looking for ways to use mobile games to optimize everything from customer engagement to patient wellness. Here are just some of the ways that mobile gaming is changing the way we interact with brands, take care of ourselves and educate our students.
Gaming in Education: More than a few studies have shown that access to mobile devices at home and in the classroom can have beneficial effects on student test scores, literacy and study habits. Even more interesting are the results of a 2014 study that found playing fast-paced action games made people better learners. Other research has shown that playing mobile games daily can boost data retention. And as a consequence of these kinds of findings, educators across the US are integrating more technology into the classroom and exploring gamification as a way to promote collaboration and support student research efforts.
Gaming and Health: Healthcare professionals and researchers in that space are looking into some fascinating ways to use games for some very specific life-saving and life-enhancing ends. The Games for Health Project is exploring the potential of mobile gaming in mental health care, patient engagement, fitness, rehabilitation, and provider training. Currently mobile games are helping people manage their diabetes and recover more quickly from physical injuries. The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto developed the Pain Squad app, which gamifies the daily pain tracking that children with cancer have to do as part of treatment. And the Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC piloted a program that used an app to help kids with sickle cell disease cope with the memory loss associated with the disease. More and more, researchers are discovering that gaming can be good for patients and so much more than a waiting room distraction.
Gaming and Business: Forbes’ 2015 State of Marketing Survey found that more than a third of marketers surveyed had plans to launch mobile apps or games in the near future. That’s unsurprising – branded mobile games can increase customer awareness, help retailers understand customer habits and drive sales. But some companies have realized that creating a branded game may be less effective than having their brand appear in an already popular game. For example, CBG Max Azria, Rebecca Minkoff and Rachel Zoe all signed on to be part of CrowdStar’s hugely popular Covet Fashion app. And Lexus teamed up with EA to give their cars a starring role in Real Racing 3.
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As to why mobile gaming in particular has attracted the attention of so many professionals across industries, it’s all about accessibility. The technology necessary to reach a particular target audience – whether that’s patients with dementia or moms ages 21-35 – is never more than an arm’s length away. Each of us is now equipped with a relatively powerful gaming device from adolescence to end of life and marketers, scientists, teachers and others are only now just tapping into the potential of mobile games. One thing is certain, however. That potential? Is limitless. Expect to see mobile games helping people accomplish amazing things from here on.