// what do you think?


Social Media is Just a Big Game

Standard joystick

Play On

As a proud member of Gen X I have fond memories of my Atari 2600.If you are reading this chances are you had an Atari, Nintendo 64 or Sega Genesis and chances are even greater you have an Xbox, Wii or Sony Play Station in your home right now. In fact to carry this even further, you are also likely to have an iPod or iPhone loaded with several games.

Gaming is a huge industry. But social media can thank much of it’s growth to gaming.

I’m not just talking about all the Farmville, Mafia Wars, sheep throwing, super poking and other plagues that roam Facebook.Social networks are filled with gaming components. The most obvious is Four Square with it’s points, badges and unelected mayors.

LinkedIn was the first time I noticed it with it’s profile status bar. If you remember back to when you first signed up there was a status bar that gave you a percentage of completion and next steps to improve your level of completion.Add a photo, invite friends, fill in job history, etc. The annoying thing was that I knew I was being gamed but I did it anyway.

Games on iPhone

Image by Tac Anderson via Flickr

But there are even less obvious forms of gaming. Why do people care about their Twitter follower count? We don’t really care how many people are following us. It’s nice affirmation and all but really it taps into that deep seeded, primal urge that games satisfies for us.

We watch how many followers we have, we watch haw many RT’s we get and how many replies to questions we ask, just like we watch how many coins we collect or aliens we kill.

Business Need to Play More games

One thing that strikes me as a huge opportunity is to more overtly build gaming qualities into business software.

The biggest problem with CRM software is that sales people don’t enter the needed information in. Taking this thread to the extreme and knowing sales people and their uber competitive nature, what if each lead was a kill and all additional information under that kill determined the value of the kill. You would also need a constant leader board that sales people would check daily (I promise many of them will check it multiple times a day). You could also make a kill list out of your target customers and offer bounties for special targets.

While this is an extreme example that could potentially cause some perception problems, I promise that this would be the most successful CRM system out there.

The Future Will Be One Big Game

With the advent of Augmented Reality we will quickly move from AR games on our phones to AR glasses to everything being one big game.

[Prediction] By 2020 games will be the next social networking. Not games like we think if them today but systems that work off the same gaming theories. There will be gaming communities that dwarf Facebook and challenge Google and Microsoft for time spent, functionality, marketing dollars and developers.

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • http://gumption.typepad.com Joe McCarthy

    Ever since reading James Carse's book, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility, I am convinced that all of life - online and offline - can be viewed as a game. You've probably already seen this, but as a more practical (and relevant in this context) application, @AmyJoKim has a great presentation on how game mechanics are an essential component of all social software: Putting the Fun in Functional (there's also a video of her giving the presentation).

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Thanks Joe,
    I repeatedly come across Carse's book but have yet to read it. You've pushed me over the edge. It's time to read it.

    I hadn't seen @AmyJoKim's presentation, thanks.

  • http://www.jeremymeyers.com/ Jeremy Meyers

    This post hits on a larger concept: the need for more 'fun' in the workplace. By fun, I dont mean after-work drinks or offsites with trustfalls. I mean whatever creates an atmosphere of weirdness and camraderie. Blah blah blah Zappos.

    Two resources I recommend on this topic are The Chief Happiness Officer by @alexkjerulf and the M.A.P. maker by @CurtRosengren.

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