My video gaming life came to a virtual halt when I was in 6th grade and conquered Super Mario Brothers 3. In a strange twist, I then became obsessed with pinball, and abandoned Sega and Nintendo just as Sonic the Hedgehog rolled into the picture.
I was a relatively late adopter of Facebook, largely in a contrary effort - I heard people say how much time they "lost" due to virtual socializing and game playing, and I figured I was a happier, more productive person without these distractions.
NOW social and gaming converge in unusual harmony, and present opportunities to drive business, and contribute to the greater good.
Seth Priebatsch, founder of the mobile app "scvngr", claims that the last decade was the decade of social, and the next decade is the decade where the "game framework" is built.
Says Mr. Priebatsch, ‚"we are bringing one very new thing to the game framework, the open graph API. Social traffics in connections, games traffic in influence. By applying that to the real world, we are building a platform that traffics in motivations and rewards."
Influence is the crux of society: how to motivate communities to action. How to get people to vote? How to get them to buy your product? How to elevate the greater good?
Mr. Priebatsch supposes to "build a game layer on top of the world" (this evokes old talk of "virtual reality" to me). Seven game dynamics get people "to do anything." These dynamics are techniques used by game designers to make games fun and addictive. Examples include the "appointment dynamic": the individual must do something/be somewhere at a specific time to get a reward (think happy hour). The "progression dynamic" causes people to feel accomplishment - they can "unlock" rewards as they go - for example: progress bars, karate belts, World of Warcraft armor, other "level up" symbols.
He notes that many game mechanics are already present throughout the way we communicate and do business. We are motivated by loyalty programs that return notions of status and achievement: Airline miles, credit cards, coffee cards.
What's the difference between these "game" principles and business ploys and incentives, or gimmicks? Can we make this social and game framework productive, so that it truly does benefit the individual, and add value to our lives?
Scvngr, the latest tech brainchild of Priebatsch, gives users a platform to "visit places, do stuff, earn rewards," which drives business to local establishments. It also features the ability to broadcast your activities to all your networks via Facebook and Twitter (what doesn't nowadays?)
So in this sense there is also the element of exploration, learning, and discovery via the game, and the network. I think this is probably the most desirable result at the cross-section of social and gaming. Networks reach across the world. Games connect us, entertain us, provoke conversation, drive business, encourage understanding. It is just a matter of using our vast networks productively, and creatively integrating game dynamics into our business and communication.