By David Wisniowski
Bitstrips is an application which allows users to create an avatar of themselves and add that avatar into a series of comic strips, greeting cards, even Facebook status updates. The company itself is registered with The Cartoon Network, and, as one of its five founders states, was created through a combination of overwork and laziness.
The application is currently only accessible through Facebook (although it works on both mobile devices and traditional computers) and was created by a mixture of graphic artists and comic enthusiasts. The company describes itself as ‘a visual, fun and totally personalized way to interact with your friends‘ and has already been receiving a lot of attention, even though it has only been around for a couple of months.
An article featured in The Baltimore Sun commented that ‘Bitstrips are popping up more and more on Facebook updates. And after just a few months, Bitstrips has turned into something that everyone seems to be talking about.‘. Combine this sentiment with the company’s reported 11 million users, 55 million Bitstrips shared and 3 billion Bitstrips viewed and it is clear that the public engagement factor for this company is off the charts.
This engagement has not gone unnoticed either. Bitstrips has a special section of their website designed to help teachers engage students. This segment of Bitstrips states that “Kids love comics! Get students hooked on reading and writing. Motivate them by making homework fun. Spark their creativity – the possibilities for self expression are endless.”. The educational stream of the company also provides examples of how to use avatars and comics to elicit positive responses from students, leading to better grades, etc.
“Spark their creativity – the possibilities for self expression are endless.”
Now, I’ve been dropping little hints throughout this article as to how researchers could use the success of platforms like Bitstrips to better engage their respondents and collect higher quality data. If only there was a company which was already using this groundbreaking methodology to enhance the data collection process. Oh wait – THERE TOTALLY IS.
Research Through Gaming has been engaging respondents through the creation of ‘virtual selves’ since 2011. To do this, we use our Avatar Creator Tool™ (or ACT), and also let our respondents operate in a virtual environments. While we have yet to see 11 million respondents come through the ACT, we have seen immense increases in engagement when compared to traditional survey methods. Similar to Bitstrips, our company also has graphic designers and comic enthusiasts on staff.
It’s clear that the ‘power of avatars’ is in a state of growth, and for companies like Bitstrips, massive growth. Avatars seem to be popping up in more and more industries for predominantly one reason; they increase engagement.
In her upcoming book “Playspondents: Making Games for Research”. Betty discusses the emotional ties we have with Avatars and how the powerful combination of story, personalisation and games can help us in many areas of research.
You can make your own Bitstrip at http://www.bitstrips.com/
You can also make your own Avatar with our Avatar Creator Tool™