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Small businesses 'gamifying' their websites

PHOENIX -- Many larger businesses already do it to attract new customers.

They create simple video games for people to play in hopes they will have more business. The process is called "gamification" and it's moving away from a novelty and is becoming a larger trend.

"Gamification works really well," said Jason Smith, creative director for Moses Anshell Advertising. "It's tapping in to a sense of competitiveness and fun, and wanting to challenge yourself a bit."

Smith said more local businesses are starting to gamify their websites, partially because it's easy. Most games are copies of other games seen on hundreds, if not thousands, of other websites. It's also becoming more of a necessity in order to compete in the market.

While the process can be effective, Smith stresses that it is reaching gimmick status.

"It works best when it is part of the story of a company," he said. "If it is part of who they are and part of the long-term narrative they are telling for their company, it can be great. If done well, it can work, but it's usually not done well."

About the Author

Years with the company: I started here in December 2011. I'm definitely the new kid.

Hometown: Boulder, Colorado.

Education: I got my undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University. I then went to graduate school at Arizona State University.

Family: I have been married to my wonderful wife, Jamie, since June 2010. We don't have any kids, but we do have a cat that causes as much trouble as a kid.

Favorite food: Chocolate chip cookies and cucumbers. In fact, every day I have a couple of cucumbers in my work bag chopped up and ready for snacking. I eat the cookies to offset being too healthy.

Favorite spot in Arizona: Sedona, hands down. I actually went there for my honeymoon.

Favorite news memory: I worked on a 3-month project involving the problems with Type II Diabetes along the U.S.-Mexico Border. It's a problem that a lot of people don't about. I met and worked with people down there that changed my life.

Favorite movie: It's hard to pin down just one, but one that always keeps replaying in my head is The Princess Bride.

Favorite TV Show: That 70's Show and The Simpsons. I could probably name some others, but I watch those two as often as possible.

First job: I was a busboy for an Old Chicago back home in Boulder. I worked all through high school at that place, and loved it.

Favorite band: I have a lot of music I listen to, but I love the Foo Fighters and Rise Against. 3 Doors Down is another group that's a favorite on my iPod.

Favorite sports team: The San Francisco 49ers by far! I get a lot of guff for cheering for them in Arizona, but I love every moment of it. As far as college sports go, I'm always following the BYU Cougars.

Outside interests: My wife and I love going outdoors, whether it's camping or hiking. Personally, I love mountain biking. I also play a little guitar when I have a bit of free time.


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