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  • 00:09

    [MUSIC PLAYING][Designing Games As Tools for Market Research--ResearchThrough Gaming]

  • 00:22

    BETTY ADAMOU: Hi, my name is Betty Adamou.I'm the Founder of Research Through Gaming, and alsothe author of Games and Gamificationin Market Research, which was publishedby Kogan Page in 2018.I'm also a writer.I've got a column called How Games and Data AreChanging the World.Also keynote at conferences.I guest lecture loads to studentsabout the methodology of using games and gamification

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: for market research.And also, design the research games that my clients use,which are a range of Fortune 500 brandsthrough to academic institutions.I used to work at a survey software company.And within that role, I was an account manager,but I think the other members of the management team

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: saw that I had a real interest in design.I'm a very creative person.And so I worked with one of the programmersthere to develop more interactive surveysoftware tools.So things that just looked more engaging, and less dryfor online research.And it was in those moments where,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: again, just taking some of my thinkingfrom previous market research jobs,I always thought, surely there's a better wayto speak to people.I wasn't a fan of what is known as the traditional onlinesurvey.So I was doing these market research jobs in the day,and just thinking, there's a better way.But after work, I would just go and hammer World of Warcraft,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: and I was always a massive gamer growing up.And it was in playing World of Warcraftthat I realized, well, games and data arecompletely interconnected.You can't play games without data.When you're playing games, there's leaderboards,there's XP points, there's leveling up in some way.All of that relies on data that istaken from how you play-- what you

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: do when you're playing a game.And so it was just this eureka moment that was like,we surely can make games as tools for market research.And so having this idea, I createda paper called The Future of Research Through Gaming.I was just, at that point, exploring

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: what could be the theoretical underpinnings for thisas a methodology.I did a presentation at what was thenknown as the CASRO conference.Unfortunately, CASRO doesn't exist anymore.It's moved on in other directions.This is actually the lanyard from that talk,which I kept all these years.And I think I was something like 23 or 24 at the time.And there's a YouTube video of it,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: and I'm shaking like a leaf.But I knew I was onto something because, at the endof that conference talk, I got a standing ovation whichwas very cool.Bearing in mind, I was still working for the other company.So when loads of people were approaching after like,what's your pricing for it, and can you show us the demo?I was like, I have nothing.It was just an idea.But then after that, a few industry friends of mine

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: flew me out to Chicago and literally sat mearound the table at dinner and theywere like, when are you leaving your job to start this company?Because if you don't, somebody elseis going to do it because you've put the idea out there now.So I very quickly trademarked the term research games.I started the company Research Through Gamingbecause it was part of the wording of my paper,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: as nerdy as that sounds.And yeah, since then, I haven't looked back.It's been a wonderful experience.And one of my first clients was, what was at the time,BBC magazine several months in.And it was just me, at the time, workingfrom my bedroom in a house share,and had an intern at the time.And from there, Research Through Gaming has grown.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: Not just in terms of the researchgames we provide for our clients,and the types of clients we work with.So organizations that are involvedin FMCG products through to academic institutions,but in the kind of services that are provided to clients.So I do loads of consultation.I run gamification, innovation, and strategy workshops.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: I guest lecture to students.And so that means that the day to dayis very different, which is greatbecause I like diversity and variety in what I do.But also, research gaming is now,and until quite recently, we're doing marketing gamesas well and training games.Because I should have really realized it before.Actually, a lot of my work is at the intersection

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: of using games for engagement that collect data.And of course, if you think about it, loads of industriesneed that.They need engaging content because theywant to either distribute information, or collect itor do both.And so training games is somethingthat's going to be really important to organizationsthat want to train employees, or whether that's

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: in the medical industry or otherwise.And marketing games to people that want moreengaging ways to cut through the noiseand make their marketing and advertising sticky.So those are the things that Research Through Gamingis offering as a whole.And nine years on, Research Through Gaming

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: is still going strong.And the irony is that I wanted to writea book about the methodology to helpmy clients and prospective clientsunderstand more deeply what I do,and the science behind what I do.What has been really nice is that in writing the book,that's prompted new clients to get in touch.So if you're thinking about writing a book, do it.It's been a very rewarding experience.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: Using Games Through Research has multiple benefits.So if we think about when we play games,there's a lot of things that are goingon in terms of our interaction and behavior.So we are intrinsically engaged when we play games.That's a whole different mindset to wherewe're extrinsically motivated to take partin market research surveys.So for example, if you do an online market research survey,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: very typically you're given some sort of reward,like 50 pence, a pound, a prize draw, or maybein some organizations, there mightbe merchandise or something like that.Some kind of an extrinsic motivator.Whereas, people don't need any kind of payment to play games.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: Games, as a medium of entertainment,is the most engaging medium of all time.It's also most commercially lucrative.In 2017, games completely outsold all other formsof entertainment, generating something like $90 billionworldwide.And so people who play games, they're not paid to play.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: They do it because they're intrinsically engaged.And in that intrinsic engagement, what happensis that we're more focused and attentive.We have a desire to continue and completewhat we're doing when we're intrinsically engaged.And of course, if you think about market research,of course we want people to continue taking partin research and complete it.We want them to be focused and attentive

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: on what they're reading in terms of the questions,the instructions, and how they're responding.So that's one layer of it.But of course, we play games, and play alsohas a place in market research.Because when we play, we show people our own core truths.We feel safe to say how we really feel or dowhat we really want to do in an environment that

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: is not detrimental to our physical, emotional well-being.And play allows us to be more creative and collaborative andinnovative.There have been loads of academic studiesto show that people involved in play are better at problemsolving.And actually, loads of market researchasks the participants to help solve a problem for a business,or for an academic institution.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: And so by bringing that element of playin with that intrinsic engagement,creates, actually, quite a powerful research tool.And the third layer is-- let's not forgetthat games are experiential.They can be very emotional.So in this day and age where we'retalking about understanding the why behind the what,games are really good at observing

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: how people behave in a context that you may have created.So if you can imagine, when you'replaying a game for entertainment,World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, any of these games,you are walking through an environmentin which the context and how you're feelingimpacts your choices.And that is true of day to day life.How much time and how we're feeling in a supermarketwill determine not just what we buy,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: but how we physically move around a store.And so using games for research alsoallows us to create these simulated spaces where we canobserve behaviors in context.That then leads to really juicy discussionsabout predictive modeling.Because if you can allow people to essentially rehearsewhat they're going to do in an environment that hasn't even

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: existed yet, you can then go to businessesand say, well, if you create your product like this,or you're advertising campaigns like that,this is how people could react.And we know that because we've simulated that experiencewithin a game environment.So it's an incredibly powerful tool,and all the games I make for my clientsare all bespoke because they all comewith completely different research

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: needs, different target consumers,and in this day and age where games are mobile,no participant has to wait to plug into a consolebecause they're all device agnostic.So it means that we're reaching a really wide rangeof consumers from young children to 65plus adults around the world.So when I create a research game,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: I'm doing that with lots of different things in mind.So I'm thinking about how the narrative in the gameis going to emotionally engage the participant,how it's going to uphold my clientsresearch objectives and business needs, and I'm alsothinking, of course, about all the big and small datapoints that come with that.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: So in the back end, I will know not justhow people made a choice, but I will also know thingsabout how long it took for them to makethat choice because we've got hidden timersin the back of the game.Or sometimes we have timers on the screen, whichcreates a sense of urgency for the participantand encourages top of mind choices.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: And I analyze that data as any market researcherwould analyze online quantitative market researchdata.And I've purposefully made that part of ita familiar way for market researchers to use.So the data will come out in SPSS or Excel.So if I'm working with a client who just wants raw data,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: they know it's in a format that they are used to, essentially,and that they can use.Or if I'm analyzing the data, I knowI'm doing that in a fashion that istrue to how I've been taught in the pastand what I've been trained to do.That is all packaged in not just the research game design,but of course, how I then report those insights to the clients.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: So very often, I'll actually use screen grabs from the gamewhen I'm talking about the decisionsthat people made so that my client can, obviously,get a really good idea of the contextthat people were in at the time wherethey were making decisions.So actually, the research game itselfbecomes part of the data analysis,and the insight reporting stage as well.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: Sometimes clients will come to me with a traditional survey,and they'll say, we want this to be more engaging.Very often, my clients will be very candid about the factthat they might have had a very low responserate in the past or low completion rate, or lackof data quality because of lack of engagementor whatever the problem is.But actually, there's a lot of my clients

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: that come with no survey.They're just like, this is what we need to know.We haven't created a survey for it yet.And we've never used Gamification before,but can you teach us the ways and help us create this.And so I then go into a three stage process.So the first stage is, actually, designing the research game.So coming up with the idea for the game.

  • 12:07

    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: Doing my storyboards for that, whichI will do in drawing format with pen and paper.And then, take that into Photoshop or Illustratorand design the graphics as a storyboard.And then, at that point, what I givemy client is a storyboard so theycan see what the participant wouldgo through screen by screen.If I'm using music and sound effects,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: I'll also edit it as a video.So I'm literally filming my screengoing through the storyboard, applying then music and soundeffects on top.So they're basically getting as close to whatthe finished game would look likewithout me having to code it.So they have a look at that.And at that point, they might say, this is fantastic.We can now go into the coding and play testing stage.Or what a lot of my clients do is, this is really great.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: Can we add another question, or can wechange up the answer options to one of the scenarios,for example?And so then, we go into stage two where me and my teamare programming the research game.We're play testing it so it's working beautifullyon all sorts of different devices.We're doing some alpha testing as well with other people.And then from that, we will do what

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: people in traditional survey modeswill do, and do like a soft launch and a full launchto the target participants.But because of the way research games look and feel,clients really like to show them off.So very often, we will get--the clients we work with say, actually, we

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: want to put this on our social media pagebecause we think it looks really cool,or we want to put this quite literally on the homepage of our website so any traffic coming throughis converted into research participantsbecause they're seeing this game and they want to take part.But equally, I do have some clients whowant to go down the more traditional routes of emailingtarget participants who have signed up to do surveys,

  • 13:53

    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: and they get an email invitation and so on,and go down that route as well.And some of my clients want the full service approach.So the data analysis, the insight reporting.Very often, I'll be working with clientswho are statisticians and data analysts in themselves,so they just get the raw data.But what I really like about this processcompared to where I used to work in traditional market research

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: roles is that my clients love to be so involved.They want to be involved in the play testing.Very often, they'll share the linkto the game with loads of other membersin the team who may or may not be part of the research team.Sometimes they're not even really involved.And I've had loads of clients come backto me to say that, with the research game,it's the first time that multiple teams have

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: been involved.Not just to see the research product come to life,but because they're more engaged,they're then more motivated to understandthe data and the insight, and thenapply that to their business.And that is just wonderful for me.I didn't actually expect that to be a bonus when I firststarted the company.I couldn't have foreseen that as a positive that would come out,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: but that's been really great as well.Because ultimately, the more engaged clients are,the more actionable the research is going to be.And so that's great to see.The participants love the methodology as well.I always get told in the feedback I get,which is voluntary, that was really great.I'd love to do more of these.One of the most common feedback terms we getis thank you because I think people just

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: love that somebody has been more invested in makingthe experience better for them.So in my particular role I wear so many hats.So when I'm designing a research game,I am thinking as a researcher.I am thinking as a game designer.But I'm also thinking about--I'm also somebody who just wants to communicatewith other human beings in a really clear way,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: and develop a platform for them that's really intuitive to takepart in.Just like any digital media, you wantthat experience to be valuable, you want it to be intuitive.And so I'm wearing all these hats.And I think that if anybody was going to try and do my job,they would need to understand the importance of storytelling,how to evolve a narrative, how to make that narrative

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: work for research objectives, the benefits of using avatars,when and when not to use them.The very significant role that music and sound effectscan play in creating a specific emotional statein participants or not.There's so many things that-- again, I'mdiscovering this all because I inventedthe methodology of research games,I couldn't have foreseen at the time how many layers there

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: were to it.But I hope in the future that therewill be students and young professionals who think, yeah,I want to be a research game narratologist.I want to be an avatar designer for research games.I want to be somebody who creates the musicand sound effects that go into research games,or create the simulated experiences.Because I do all of those things.

  • 16:39

    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: But I see those roles becoming bigger and coming togetherwhere other people will come into industry in the futureand use this methodology more.Because I'm not going to be around forever,and I really am quite passionate about passingthe baton on to as many people thatwant it so that they're using and evolving the methodology.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: In my book, I have a whole chapterbased on the ethics of designing and executing research gamesand gamified surveys.But that's just the start, and I'msure that there will be more people addingto that body of knowledge.One of the papers I did with a clienthas been published with SAGE, and thatwas on one particular study.But in the future, I foresee more students--

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: there are current students who are studying gamified methods,but more students studying this method,and bringing their thoughts and creativity and ideasto the table as well, and just expanding the conversationon this methodology.So first, I would say explore the industry.Really get to grips with how many avenuesyou can go down in terms of account managementor project management through to programming,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: if that's your interest or design, more on the technologyside.So there's lots of different ways that you can get involved.So I would say, definitely, explore the breadth of whatmarket research has to offer.And then, on that from there, really internallythink about where you want to go and what your goals are,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: and see what can align with different opportunitiesin the market research industry.Again, as I mentioned earlier, there'sso many different avenues.And I think if you were to say, actually, I'mreally quite a creative person.Is there something more creative Ican do within market research.Explore that.

  • 18:28

    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: Explore opportunities within that.I'd also say get on social media.Not only is it a wonderful thing to look back on in termsof your journey as a market researcher,but we are in the data and technology age.It's a wonderful way to connect with other market researchersand insight professionals, and actually,people outside of your industry that can offer expertise.And I think it's through social media,

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: actually, that I was asked to be partof conferences in the early stages of my career.So that was a really invaluable tool,so definitely get on social media.I would also say that you're nevertoo young or inexperienced to bring someone else upthe ladder.So don't be afraid to be a mentor to somebody else.

  • 19:11

    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: On that note, I would say grab a mentor,so that's another piece of advice.When I started out in this industry,I had a few of my mentors who still advise me and guide meto this day.People like Ray Poynter, Andrew Jeavons and Annie Pettitwho, if you don't know their names, please do Google themand look them up.And having a mentor in this industrywas great as a way to navigate the different avenues

  • 19:34

    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: within this industry, what I could do.But also, the commercial perspectiveof grabbing clients, and how you engage with clients,and how you articulate what you do in a clear fashionon your website.Through to personal things like, hey,should I write a book or not?And having somebody like Annie Pettit saying,you will write this book.And absolutely whipping you to do that.

  • 19:57

    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: So grabbing a mentor is a great avenue to go down as well.Also don't be afraid to create your own niche.If you are in a market research roleand actually think it's time for a change, that's fine.A career change is fine.Don't be afraid of that.Don't be worried that people will pigeon hold you here,and now you want to go somewhere else.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: When I grew up, I wanted to be an artist and a scientist.And what's great is that, somehow, I'vemanaged to merge these two things together.So I would say find your niche, and if it doesn't exist,absolutely build it for yourself.Because this is an industry that is incrediblysupportive of entrepreneurs.Actually, there's lots of market researcherswho are sole traders and one woman or one man bands.

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    BETTY ADAMOU [continued]: And you will find a lot of networkswithin market research that supports solo players.So if you don't have your own opportunity that really speaksto your heart and your passion or your interest,create it for yourself.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Video Info

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Publication Year: 2020

Video Type:In Practice

Methods: Innovative methods, Marketing research, Data collection, Data analysis skills, Researcher skills

Keywords: data collection; digital media; gaming; innovation and creativity; marketing research; quantitative research approach; research design; research methodology; Social media; Survey research; video research ... Show More

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



Betty Adamou, Founder of Research Through Gaming, discusses the use of games for market research, including the research design process, advantages of, and tips for those interested in this field.

Video Info

Publication Info

SAGE Publications Ltd.
Publication Year:
SAGE Research Methods Video: Market Research
Publication Place:
United Kingdom
SAGE Original Production Type:
SAGE In Practice
Copyright Statement:
(c) SAGE Publications Ltd., 2020


Betty Adamou

Segment Info


Segment Num: 1


Segment Start Time:

Segment End Time:


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Organizations Discussed:

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Methods Map

Innovative methods

Using methodology in a creative and dynamic manner that differs from the research currently available within the field.
Innovative methods
Designing Games As Tools for Market Research: Research Through Gaming

Betty Adamou, Founder of Research Through Gaming, discusses the use of games for market research, including the research design process, advantages of, and tips for those interested in this field.

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