I get my hair cut for free at my aunt’s salon. I visit her salon about every month or so to get my ears lowered. My favorite part of this routine is that I get to talk to my little cousin Jae. Usually, Jae and I horse around or talk about really important things (such as our mutual aspirations of becoming intergalactic space rangers). This time, however, I noticed that his attention was entirely devoted to the computer screen as he played an online game called Poptropica.
For the next 9 minutes, I interviewed little Jae on various topics such as UX, gamification, hacking, advertising, YouTube, and more. Below is a collection of various responses to some of my questions. Throughout this informal interview, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how natural certain concepts are to Jae. What we might consider as new and/or emerging media are simply the norm for his generation.
Particularly interesting are Jae’s repulsive disposition toward the interruptive nature of banner ads. At just 8 years old, Jae has already developed a hatred for these digital units and even shamelessly vocalizes his hatred toward them. He explains that the only time he clicks on them are by accident, and it’s easy to see why he gets angry when his gaming experience is interrupted. Initially, this would seem to imply a gloomy outlook for digital advertisers. However, when I ask Jae about his likelihood of clicking an ad if it was incentivized with some sort of in-game integration (E.g. a really cool sword item in Poptropica), his attitude changes. Jae’s shift in attitude may signify the role of contextual incentives in users’ propensity to click on digital ads. This further supports importance of proficiency in UX—that is, understanding users’ motivations and behaviors—when it comes to creating digital drivers and experiences.
Reflecting on our conversation, I’m further convinced that we are not in the middle of a marketing paradigm shift. Rather, the paradigm has already been shifted, the game has already been changed, and the space has already been disrupted. Indeed, I regard my 8 year-old cousin Jae’s natural aversion towards interruptive advertising, nonchalance towards finding solutions by hacking, and intuitive understanding of game mechanics as a final notice to marketers: Evolve or die.
On gamification and happiness:
On banner ads: