Embracing Mobile Social Gaming

Elliott Lemenager
Wednesday, Sep 14, 2011 at 10:00 AM

On Monday I discussed the trends, logic and theories of gamification and mobile social gaming. Today I’ll be focusing on companies that are embracing mobile social gaming and have implemented a mobile social game that follows the below logic.

mobile social gaming graphic 

While watching the mobile social gaming examples below, keep in mind some of the core gaming mechanics that are implemented in each one to influence a user’s behavior such as status, rewards and communal discovery. If you really want to take a deeper dive here’s a list of 47 different gaming mechanics that can be applied for the gamification of almost any organization.

New Balance Urban Dash challenge

This mobile social game feels exciting to me because it blends the digital and real world in a very active way. There are some interesting game mechanics that are implemented but at the same time there are some components that I think provide some barriers for participation.


  • Uses the gaming mechanic of appointment where each day the release a new baton that people have to discover.
  • Rewards. Pretty simple but they’ve done a great job to keep people in game play by having a hierarchy of rewards in the game (golden baton).


  • Geo location specific. It’s only available in New York and when a baton is published it’s also only going to activate a small number of people in the geographical area, so participation could be pretty small.
  • There’s room for improvement in this mobile social game. One solution could be some kind of digital-only gaming so it’s not just limited to a specific place and time.


Pringles Crunch Band

I questioned using this one as an example, but I decided to post it because I think it’s just flat out fun… and I’m a music geek. There are some good components to this mobile social game.


  • Communal discovery. Even though it’s not through a digital system this mobile social game encourages people to play together in the real world.
  • Endless games. The beauty of this game is that there is endless game play, finding new instruments and playing with other people there is no defined timeline when the game ends or how it’s played.Rewards.  Interacting with the product to get new levels (instruments).


  • Doesn’t leverage the social component outside of the real-world; even though it’s fun to jam with your friends, it limits the scalability.
  • Influence. They offer a badge system, but it really doesn’t carry that much weight on why someone would want to share this with friends. I have, however, seen some of the most mundane badge systems go viral because it’s targeted to the right demographic.


Guess Who

I love this one because they take an analog game that many people have played before and made it digital with a twist.


  • Communal Discovery. They did a great job applying this in a way that can be done digitally or in the real-world.
  • Rewards. Great reward system that gives points to people to purchase items from their store. 


  • Appointment. To keep people interested and involved with their game they should add an appointment mechanic that lets them know when friends want to play against them digitally or if there’s a critical mass of people in a specific area where the “Guess Me” would be extremely fun because there’s a large portion of people playing the game in a close proximity.

What’s Next? Build into already existing behavior

All of the mobile social games listed above are extremely creative and carry some of the most important gaming dynamics, and at the same time they are trying to create new behavior. This is not essentially a bad thing, but as we all know change is one of the hardest things for human beings. Where I see mobile social gaming and the implementation of gamification being extremely successful is building these components into behavior that already exists.

The following video is an example how mobile social gaming and Microsoft Tag be used to deliver experiences into existing behavior. During the Savannah Stopover, Tag was used to drive people to music venues, restaurants and art shows through communal discovery with scavenger hunts, rewards (discounts at restaurants, secret shows) and link the events together; for example, the art show having Tags so people could find bands that they want to see later that day. The one area where I think we could have done a better job is using an influence mechanism, such as badge system, to give people a sense of achievement and influence while participating in the event.

What brands do you think are doing a good job with mobile social gaming? Let us know with your comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.


Next 5 Articles

Getting Your Gamification On

Tuesday, Sep 13, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Game Monetization: A Little Goes a Long Way

Tuesday, Sep 13, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Tapping into Social Gaming

Monday, Sep 12, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Being Game

Monday, Sep 12, 2011 at 12:00 PM

The Tag App Gets a Makeover

Monday, Sep 12, 2011 at 10:00 AM