Boost Your Customer Engagement With A Virtual Pet

Prateek Gupta

August 18, 2022

When browsing through the virtual world, we often feel a higher degree of freedom. It feels like none of our actions in this world will have any lasting impact. Therefore we often do things and make decisions that we otherwise would never do. A great example of this can be seen in the TV show Westworld, a sci-fi series where people can take a trip to an almost real old-west type world, and because of the lack of consequences, carry out even their most violent dreams without any fears. 
The traditional rules of function-focused design cannot solve this problem because function-focused design simply optimizes each element of the customer journey within a product or digital business, never accounting for human detail. 

The Answer Lies in Gamification

To solve this problem and make our users care about their in-app journeys, we must turn our attention towards Gamification. 
Gamification is the design process that factors in the human elements. In the simplest terms, It is the process of deriving all the fun and immersive experiences one finds in a video game and using these ideas to create impact for real-world products and digital businesses. 
Often in computer games, we are given a pet, and we must take care of it as a part of the narrative. This one storytelling beat, this simple event of having to care about another creature, even though it’s virtual, exponentially increases our investment in the game. In some instances, we even put our lives in danger just to save our virtual pet. 
Gamification expert Yu-kai Chou writes about this gamification technique in his international bestseller Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards. He writes, “This is the power of Ownership and Possession - it not only can engage, but it also can comfort and instill a sense of well-being. You see the same phenomenon with baseball cards, pens, and even impressive-looking books that no one reads neatly placed on a shelf. People just like to display them and marvel at the collection for hours while seemingly “having fun” in the process.”
This feeling of ownership and possession can be directly translated into our digital businesses. Simply adding a virtual pet can result in a massive increase in user retention & customer engagement and the time people spend on our apps. 
Advertisers have been using a trick along similar lines: they try to convince the user that they already own the promoted product, urging them to consider it with more empathy. 
Lastly, owning a pet is meaningful, even though it’s virtual. But with Gamification, you can now build personalized pets for different customer journeys that are more immersive, responsive, and user action-based. The very act of ownership gives us a sense of responsibility and care, turning casual surfers into emotionally invested users. 

(Building Immersive Customer Experiences With A Virtual Pet)


Seeds of Dream

A natural beauty brand, L’Occitane en Provence, has created a game around the concepts of Ownership and Possession to go above and beyond the simple marketing tricks and beating the drum about sustainability. 
The game involves picking a seed out of three choices, planting it, and taking care of it. You do this by pressing down on the water and sun buttons at the bottom of the screen. As you do so, the rain will fall, and the sun will shine on your seed respectively. You have a limited amount of each to use, however. This is where an additional gaming element comes in. Between the water, and sun buttons is a control pad button. Click on this, and you are allowed to gain some more water and sun for your little friend (that’s not me being cute either, you have to show the seed some love by clicking on its face now and again).



And with time, as you nurture the seed, it grows. This process of investing your time to care about a living thing builds a deep personal relationship and creates an internal drive. 

Before You Go

This is the power of Gamification. By understanding and applying gamification ideas to our digital businesses, we can create an immersive experience for our customers. Using gamified design techniques makes it possible to build apps that are fun, addictive, and still add value to the user. 
Are you fascinated by gamification? Want to build such cute yet powerful user motivators for your app or web platform? Then you must check out CustomerGlu, our user gamification platform that allows you to create similar game-like engagements for your users. CustomerGlu, you can turn even the most boring customer journeys into adventures of epic proportions. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q. What is Gamification?
A. Gamification is the practice of adding game elements that creates immersion to real-world apps or web platforms to boost customer engagement. 

Q. Why Should I Use Gamification?
A. Gamification has a demonstrated history of building fun and immersive user experiences that drive motivation effortlessly and organically. Adding these game-like elements to your digital business will enable you to acquire, engage, and retain more customers. 

Q. What is a virtual pet?
A. A virtual pet is a user’s digital companion that can drive motivation by building empathy. Because your users will own the pet, they will automatically care for it. And they will keep coming back to your app or web platform regularly to take care of their loved possession.