The1stMovement Taps Network Engineers to Create First Habitat on The Red Planet with Cisco’s ‘Mars Network Challenge’ Game

Digital agency The1stMovement (T1M), working in partnership with tech giant Cisco, has developed a fun and addictive gaming platform designed specifically to engage enterprise network audiences called ‘Mars Network Challenge’.

Video Production Credit: MRM

Mars Network Challenge was based upon popular tower defense game concepts, a style proven to support mass audience engagement and one that could be adapted to the “Mars habitation” story that T1M conceived exclusively for Cisco. “We incorporated Cisco’s enterprise network solutions into the game so audiences could experience them in a thematic, story-driven experience,” says Joe Gray, Creative Director at The1stMovement. “People from around the globe were then recruited to help a team of scientists, engineers, botanists, and geologists set up and maintain the first self-sufficient, self-sustaining human presence on Mars.”

Designed as a scalable platform, Mars Network Challenge came to life–from ideation to execution–by leveraging T1M’s “agile” methodology. This included Design Sprints to reveal key challenges and opportunities for enterprise network audiences as well as a way to rapid prototype and test early game versions. “During The1stMovement’s Design Sprint, we learned that the journey to Mars is considered an important human endeavor for global audiences,” notes Ido Glazer, Marketing Manager at Cisco. “While it was important that we create a scalable online platform, it was critical that the story have universal appeal as the game had to be delivered in 23 languages across 43 countries.”

“With metrics, Cisco solution benefits, and the desires of key target audiences in hand, we conceived an unconventional approach to solution awareness, action, and interaction: an addictive online scalable game platform to expose people to key benefits of Cisco solutions,” explains T1M’s Director of Engagement Strategy, Jeff Dumo. “We believed that if we could construct a game based on the five traits of addictive games – ‘no instructions’ gameplay, endless levels, unlimited ways to beat each level, ‘just missed it’ difficulty and simple scoring and reward systems – we might just be able to create a new kind of digital engagement platform for Cisco.”

The Mars Network Challenge game takes place in various geographical areas of Mars. Each area has a series of bases that require players to perform tasks related to the base type and function. Within each base are five, quick reaction, Tower Defense Game levels and a related Base Challenge that requires players to navigate real Cisco solutions to complete network and security tasks. “As levels become increasingly difficult, Base Challenges offer the gamer the chance to win power-ups that help them advance in the Tower Defense game,” says Dumo. “Base Challenges also are the primary way that a gamer is introduced and exposed to Cisco solutions, their benefits, and capabilities.”

The gaming experience took about five months to execute from design sprint to launch. Cisco and T1M plans to now roll out new game levels and solution challenges for Mars Network Challenge over the span of 12 months.

“Games, like other forms of entertainment, have the ability to captivate and ignite our imagination, transporting us momentarily into a different reality, and delivering a positive emotional experience through an interactive narrative,” adds T1M CEO Ming Chan. “With its highly technical audience, Cisco believes that a game can do more than simply generating awareness, but also grow its business.”

It’s an innovative and creative approach from a technology company and brand that is a leader in its sector. The concept appears to be working. Mars Network Challenge has been among the top performing content on Cisco.com in terms of engagement.

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About The1stMovement:

Digital is our one – and only – focus at The1stMovement. Founded in April 2006, we are an independently-owned, MBE certified digital agency with offices in Los Angeles, Denver and Hong Kong. As digital consultants, creatives and technologists, we design, build and market products for enterprises large and small. Let’s build something amazing together.