In the world of gamification for television, it can sometimes be difficult to tie couch potatoes to an interactive experience, but a few projects have done it well. Pug Pharm, a Canadian leader in gamification and social engagement, teamed up with Switch Design to create a social gameplay platform to the History Channel’s Ice Pilots NWT website. Although just released, Pug Pharm has shown that gamification can drive engagement across entertainment outlets.
Ice Pilots NWT, in the vein of Ice Road Truckers is a show about Buffalo Airways, an airline that delivers goods and people throughout the North West Territories in Canada. The interpersonal drama is heightened by fixing World War II era cargo planes at 10,000 feet in subzero temperatures.
The advergaming arrives in the form of a “1942” style scrolling game where you pick up cargo of different point values. This type of advergaming has been seen before, and is often a cheesy mashup of a classic game in the theme of a movie or TV show. But Ice Pilots has a hook, and succeeds with its use of cargo and a touch of gamification.
By browsing the site, uncovering secret easter eggs, or playing the Ice Hunters game you collect cargo of different values which you can post to your profile. At the end of the week, the player with the most cargo value wins a prize (this week its a flight jacket) and gets a chance to win a trip to the bitter north of Canada in Yellowknife.
Advergaming has had a rough history of poorly executed copies of good games. Many times, this arises from a lack of game designers working on creative mashups of game mechanics and entertainment themes. Pug Pharm has shown that gamification can engage viewers and bridge the gap by tying game mechanics to a deeper narrative.