BB&T, a regional bank in the U.S., is promoting leadership skills in an unusual app for iPads, iPhones and other mobile devices.
The mobile game catapults the player into the role of a fledgling settler aspiring to become the new ruler of a Gothic-themed medieval province. The player’s quest is to lead a quirky cast of characters in the dysfunctional community of Failburg, and help transform it into a thriving province. The journey takes players through a series of role-playing challenges that require good humor and leadership acumen to navigate successfully. With help from the king, players can rise to a position of leadership and influence, depending on the choices they make and interactions with other game characters.
The game includes 25 main story quests and 10 mini-games (games within a game). Each mini-game provides small boosts to the village’s resources and the player’s leadership meter — for example, the player may need to help the town carpenter repair a bridge so the residents can cross it. When the player completes the game all the way through to the end, the player’s character gets to “retire” and reflect on the tough decisions they made and how well they led their village — e.g., “What is their legacy?”
“Players want new gaming experiences beyond run, jump, and shoot,” said David Ballard, a game designer at Chaotic Moon Studios, the company that built the mobile app for BB&T.
The whimsical game is designed to be fun for players of all ages, but many Gen-X players will sense a modern interpretation of the 8-bit experience of video games from the 1980s.
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Taking Leadership Seriously
Why the “leadership” theme, and not something more directly connected to banking — say a “financial literacy” game?
BB&T started working on its leadership model in the 70s and began ramping it up in the 90s. The model focuses on how a person’s beliefs drive their behaviors, which, in turn, affect their results. After successfully rolling the program out internally, BB&T decided to share its model with community workshops and leadership classes at high schools.
“We don’t believe that leadership is some mystical thing, that it’s just in your genes,” Brian Davis, corporate communications strategist at BB&T said in an interview. We believe that it’s a learned skill. That it can be improved. And hopefully this game will lead us towards that.”
The Legacy game includes a section that explains the BB&T leadership model in some detail.
According to AppBrain, BB&T’s game has been downloaded and installed over 5,000 times. The 73 user ratings at Google Play average to 3.5 stars, with 43 giving the game five stars and 22 giving it only one (the lowest possible rating). There’s a similar trend at the Apple iTunes store, with 23 five-star ratings and 6 one-stars (average 4.0 stars). A number of iPad users have complained that the app crashes frequently.
“This mobile game is definitely unique for banks,” says Rebecca Borison, an editorial assistant writing for Mobile Marketer. “Banks have really been focusing on the practical/tactical uses for mobile. A game is a really interesting way for BB&T to leverage mobile with a subtle branding message.”