Sunday, June 28, 2015

MarTech Stack Jenga: Official Rules

I spent some time in Atlanta last week, including a Friday afternoon visit with Sangram Vajre at Terminus to discuss his upcoming FlipMyFunnel conference. I’ll be keynoting the part of the conference devoted to technology stacks. Our conversation naturally turned to MarTech Jenga, my recent random thought of using the popular stacking game to illustrate how marketers assemble their technologies. Lacking adult supervision, Sangram and I spent too much time on the actual game design and came up with a seemingly workable idea. We're still debating the details – Sangram favors simplicity and my style is more complex* – but here are the official rules for MarTech Jenga** at the moment. Public comment is welcome:

Object of the game: assemble the most complete marketing stack before everything collapses.

Equipment: standard set of Jenga blocks, divided into nine groups of six. Groups are numbered 1-9 and (optionally) assigned a color and type of marketing system. Blocks are marked on each end with their group number and color. Individual blocks can also be marked with the logo of a specific vendor*** although this has no effect on the game play. Numbers 1-4 are marked with an asterisk to indicate that those groups are required for a complete stack.****

Setup: blocks are stacked three-across in alternating directions, as in standard Jenga. 

Game play: each player in turn may remove one block from the stack or pass. Players retain all blocks they remove in their own stack, whose contents must remain visible to other players. Play continues until the stack falls or all players have passed in sequence.

Scoring: the player who causes the stack to collapse loses. If at least one player has acquired all the required blocks, then players who have not acquired all the required blocks lose (if this rule is adopted). Remaining players are given one point for each group that is present in their stack. There are no points for additional blocks within the same group. Player with the most points wins.

Sangram promises me that he’ll have some version of the game available at FlipMyFunnel, but I’m not holding him to it. On the other hand, this seems the perfect thing to have at a vendor booth. The opportunities for customization are self-evident, as are things like a leaderboard for high scores through the conference.  I'll leave the drinking game versions up to the Internet.

*No surprise there: he's a practitioner and I'm a consultant.

**The name Jenga is actually trademarked so we’ll have to pick something else if this ever gets beyond the blogging stage.

***a sponsorship opportunity.

**** Whether to have required blocks is a particular point of debate. It originally reflected the reality that certain types of systems are essential in a marketing stack. But from a game design point of view, it adds strategy considerations such as picking the required blocks sooner and blocking other opponents from completing their stack. That makes the game considerably more interesting.  The question is whether that takes too much thinking for a casual game. The only real way to resolve this is through play testing, where we could fiddle with a number of variables such as number of groups in total, number of required groups if any, and whether to play topless (i.e., allowing players to remove blocks from the top of the stack).

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