I’m of the generation that grew up with video games. Jumping on goombas, throwing hadoukens, and forming lines of identically-colored blocks are all second nature by now. Perhaps this is why the mechanics of gamification work so well on me and I know that I am certainly not alone. Games have their place in education too, as Carmen Sandiego and Mavis Beacon can certainly attest.
Games aren’t just for kids either. If you’re looking for a fun way to learn more about making money online, then today’s review of Startup Alley may pique your interest. Learn how to advertise online while earning cash, gold and XP too.
Learn to Play the Internet Marketing Game
Look around the web and you’ll find no shortage of training programs to teach you about the ways of online advertising, conversions, click-thru rates and the like. Many of these are incredibly insightful and useful, but they may not necessarily be much fun.
Startup Alley dares to be a different, presenting itself more like a casual game you might find on Facebook or as an app for your mobile device. You take on the role of a guy who is just starting out with making money online and the game walks through some of the key lessons you’ll need to know in order to do that.
It’s partly story driven and it has some RPG elements to it. The cash and gold you earn in the game can also be spent in the game to run your virtual campaigns and to buy powerups, but naturally the educational component is what’s most important here.
Click, Drag, Wait, Profit
Borrowing the rather standard paradigm of your typical video game, Startup Alley consists of a series of increasingly challenging levels, each building upon the knowledge and skills you’ve gained along the way.
In the first level, you work with your friend at a used car dealership, building Facebook ads to attract customers. The simulation isn’t completely realistic, nor does it necessarily need to be in this context.
One of the first things you learn is that a Facebook ad consists of a header, an image, and the copy text. You simply drag these components, one at a time, to form and submit your ad. Along the way, you learn about choosing images that are eye-catching, how to use text in your images effectively, and so on.
You’re not going to find any advanced graphics or complex physics here. The name of the game is to learn about Internet advertising and it’s presented in a way that’s much easier to digest than a dense body of text. When tracking a domain, you’re only told about one element at a time, like impressions, clicks, or conversions.
At the end of each ad campaign, which runs for a couple minutes of real time (similar to the countdown timers you might find in a variety of mobile casual games), you can review to see how you did. This is accompanied by “suggestions” that tell you more about why your chosen image is good (or bad), as well as suggestions for the copy text and header.
Connect with the Community Too
In addition to the active “game” part of Startup Alley, each group of “challenges” is typically accompanied by the task of reading through specific threads in the accompanying forum. These build upon and expand the lessons that you learn through the game itself.
You’re also encouraged to interact with the rest of the Startup Alley community. These are other players, just like you, who are also learning about Internet marketing. The community is meant to be a resource for everyone to learn from everyone else.
The Price of an Online Education
Startup Alley operates on a subscription model with the choice of paying monthly or annually.
If you just want to try Startup Alley today, you can opt for the 7-day trial for just a dollar. After that, the standard monthly subscription is $27 or you can prepay for a whole year for $204, which effectively works out to $17 per month. New lessons and content are added all the time, so there’s always something to learn.