Jason Anderson, Datagame Founder and Chief Technology Officer
I’ve been many things over the years, but I’ve always been a gamer. The vocation for gaming came knocking at my door when I was kid; at 12 I developed my first computer game on a Commodore 64. I’ve always liked gaming as a vehicle for experimentation, in ways that you can’t in normal life. It’s a really powerful tool.
My academic training was in computer science, so I started my career as a software engineer working on real-time imaging systems. After a brief detour to graduate school, I transitioned into the gaming industry and landed my next role as a strategic consultant for game publishers, developers and hardware manufacturers. This is also when I discovered research, as I found the business of games to be surprisingly analytical at times. During my 10 years in the gaming sector, and after running a global consumer insights team, I started a research agency in 2012. It was a traditional, full-service agency, working for clients in the interactive media space.
We had one tracker study that had a MaxDiff component that was particularly painful from a user perspective. That was a turning point. I knew that every year the average age of gamers has been going up, to the point where gaming is now part of our culture; I was fairly confident that whatever hesitancy clients might have had about using games in a business context, those were going to erode over time.
So, we persuaded the client to let us do an experiment with that tracker to see if we could find a way to gamify the MaxDiff data collection process. We wanted to make it a bit stickier because the drop off was high and completion rate low.
We prototyped a mini card game version of the survey, and we immediately saw really great benefits; a 20% improvement in the response rate, a 60% improvement in top box satisfaction with the survey experience, as well as a very high correlation of the data collected between the two methods. And so, we knew we might have found something valuable.
At that point we had valid arguments to turn this experiment into something more. Into what is now – after years of hard work and prototypes – Datagame.
I brought to Datagame something I’ve learned when working in gaming directly. We’re not competing for people’s money, we’re competing for their time and attention. People have so much choice when it comes to decide where to invest their time, so why would they give some of their minutes or even seconds to us researchers? It’s not entirely about the incentive, it’s also about an interesting topic and the ease of the experience. Even the slightest inconvenience can turn people away. So, at Datagame we just really try to make research easy, lightweight, bite-sized. And although the gaming focus is core to what we do and how we think – we are always looking for opportunities to apply our existing technologies or to identify new ones – we really do have the end user experience at heart.