B2B Tech Firm Creates Sims-like Game Experience

How do you motivate a programmer to complete a project? Ply him with junk food, caffeine, a few phone calls, nap time, and light exercise. That’s the takeaway of a new video-based virtual geek experience from Canadian middleware and source code company QNX Software Systems.

The firm’s Pocket Geek microsite, created by Ottawa-based Fuel Industries, promotes QNX and its developer forum, Foundry 27. It features a video animated cubicle dweller, “the first miniature developer in a box,” with a project to finish in one week. The game will be familiar to anyone who’s played “The Sims” or had a Tamagotchi pet (define). Users must balance energy and motivation to be sure the worker completes the project within the allotted five days.

Once they play a round, site visitors are invited to fill out a form to submit their score to the leaderboard.

“We wanted something we knew we could track [that would] break through the clutter of what other companies do. You can’t build a community through the print ad; that led us to a more social networking or viral program,” said Trisha Cooke, director of marketing at QNX.

After having done print campaigns in the past, QNX felt the necessity in making the leap to the Web. “We’ve gone from doing print ad campaigns where you get one or two seconds of time, to where you’re averaging 300 seconds of time and engagement, that’s a bonus fur us,” Cooke continued.

Fuel Industries noted game-like experiences are more often deployed for consumer rather than B2B campaigns, but said there’s no good reason for that. “Everyone consumes entertainment,” said Sean MacPhedran, director of creative strategy at Fuel Industries. “Instead of engaging someone with one print impression in a print magazine, we can engage them for 10 to 15 minute.”

Other features on The Pocket Geek site include links to a white paper, a leaderboard and the chance to win a $1,000 prize package that includes PlayStation 3 and iPod Touch.. “It was designed so the main layer is the entertainment, but we recognized there is a lot of information about QNX to deliver to an expert,” MacPhedran said, adding the site was “made for geeks by geeks, but the intent is also to have a larger reach and improve the awareness of QNX a little.”

The program runs through May. In the first nine days of the site’s launch, word-of-mouth, links from the QNX and Foundry 27 sites, and an online banner campaign drew visitors from every continent except Antarctica.

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