BigDoor Media Adds Power-Hitter Client: Seattle Startup Brings Gamification to Major League Baseball’s Website

5/10/11Follow @curtwoodward

The trend of gamification—adding virtual rewards and other game mechanics to all kinds of customer relationships—is barely a year old. But Seattle startup BigDoor Media is showing that the developing field could have some big potential: Today, the company is announcing that its technology is being integrated with MLB.com, the website for Major League Baseball.

The deal allows viewers of MLB.com’s live game-tracker to earn virtual badges and other little rewards for the time they spend on the site. So, for instance, if you’re watching the site to keep up with live in-game Mariners stats, and Ichiro happens to hit a double, you could earn a little icon reflecting that milestone.

“They become collector’s items, similar to baseball cards,” BigDoor CEO and co-founder Keith Smith said.

Why would anyone care about accruing bits of computer graphics? The thriving video game industry has shown that people will engage with puzzles or challenges if there’s some sort of virtual reward dangled at the end. “Gamification” is the attempt to bring this interaction to more industries, a sort of new-school version of the old rewards or loyalty programs you might find at a supermarket or on an airline.

BigDoor, which is housed in the Founder’s Co-op offices in South Lake Union, focuses on supplying the software infrastructure for other companies’ gamification efforts. They give the service away and aim to collect revenue by getting a slice of the action on any advertising or other kinds of sales that happen because of the game platform. The company has about 20 employees and says its platform is being used by about 250 partners. Investors include Founders’ Co-op and Foundry Group.

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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