Earlier this year, a now infamous talk by Jessie Schell, a game design professor at Carnegie Mellon, advanced the idea of game mechanics creeping into everything. The vanguard of that movement is here, and its name is BigDoor Media.
This morning, BigDoor announced a $5 million funding round led by the Foundry Group’s Brad Feld, who holds a Zynga board seat. BigDoor’s goal is to add game mechanics to everyday websites: virtual currencies and items, leader boards, badges and so forth. As in actual social games, the aim is to keep people coming back, the more often the better.
Bringing game mechanics to the rest of the web is hardly a new idea. Anyone who has used Digg is familiar with it, and companies like Bunchball have been advising major media companies on gameifying their websites for years.
This year offers a new inflection point for the web, though. Aside from Schell’s talk, marketers worldwide have taken notice of the sudden success of social games on Facebook, using viral features that could conceivably translate to websites.
In the past, most attempts to do so have failed, unless they were baked in from the beginning (as in the case of Digg). But BigDoor has a savvy set of investors and more tools at its disposal than similar companies have had in the past, including Facebook and smartphones.
We’d recommend Xconomy for more on the funding, and TechCrunch points out the somewhat seamy history of BigDoor’s founding duo, who ran Zango, which distributed adware, in the 90s — though the two long ago came clean, and have lessons to share as a result.