Amy has pointed me in the direction of a Guardian blog post by Keith Stuart which highlighted the extent to which online gaming behaviour generally bears the same habitualised and routine patterns as the real world.
he cites research from Northeastern University in Boston,
MA, that – thru tracking the movements of 100,000 people
using mobile phone signals – demonstrated that:
"Human trajectories show a high degree of temporal and spatial
regularity, each individual being characterised by a time-independent
characteristic travel distance and a significant probability to return
to a few highly frequented locations" source
Stuart observes that the same is often true in video games (such as the hotly-awaited Spore in the image above); in his post he comments that:
"It would be interesting, within a realm like WoW or Second Life, or
even one of the larger CoD IV maps, to track player movement and match
this data to the real-life research. I think there would be
correlations. People often make the mistake of thinking games are about complete escapism, but they're not."
I think as comms planners we're guilty of being nervous of planning in the online space because we assume that consumers will adopt a completely new set of motivations and behaviours. the reality is that they don't. what's true for Arnie in Total Recall (the title quote of this post) is true of consumers when interacting with brands in the online space.
the internet's greatest asset is also it's greatest challenge – the fact that the canvas is so big and blank… from ARGs to branded content via character blogs and gaming, there's a world of potential consumer engagement to explore and create. our media planning experience makes us more qualified than most to
integrate online experiences into schedules and communications plans.
Stuart's post reminds me that we shouldn't forget what we've learned about consumer motivations, desires and behaviours and translate them to the online space… the canvas has changed but the fundamental rules haven't. online is not a media channel and it shouldn't equal display and search as default lines on schedules. brands should go create with the confidence that they're able to more confidently predict online audience behaviour than they may think.