Game dynamics is the concept by which a body of rules guides human behavior in certain ways. It consists of a framework through which activities become ‘like games’, causing participants to feel a sense of achievement and a feeling of progression as they act in accordance with these rules. It engages the ‘gamers’ in a fundamental way as they work toward a set goal.
The most obvious example for the success of game dynamics is World of Warcraft: 593 million hours have been spent playing this game because of the way the framework makes people feel engaged and connected to a (virtual) cause. The average first world youth will have spent 10,000 hours on games by the time they reach age 21.
Bearing in mind that time is the scarcest resource of all for us humans, think about the following: what if all this time, or at least a significant portion of it, had been spent on achieving a greater good rather than on pure entertainment?
Putting intellectual capital to good use
Every form of voluntary social interaction happens when people follow certain rules in order to accomplish their own individual goals. For example, the ancient practice of ‘the silent trade’ saw strangers exchanging goods with one another without speaking a single word. eBayers trade unwanted items with one another and we all work for ourselves or for others in order to increase our standard of living. None of this would be possible without rules and customs: a framework.
These, and other, forms of voluntary cooperation have arisen spontaneously in the real world and work as well as can be expected. However, in combination with the digital social media infrastructure and social networking framework which we will apply, such voluntary collaboration can feasibly be ‘gamified’. Game dynamics may add additional dimensions to such collaborative activities.
The idea is to apply the concepts of game dynamics to our social media infrastructure in order to use the manifold skills and creative talents of our users to produce real change and tangible results which further our goal. This goal is very ambitious yet simple: to change the world.
We believe that maximizing social value is the key to changing the world, that digital medias are the way through which it can be done and that game dynamics are essential to engage people, especially the younger generations, in the 21st century.
So much intellectual capital is out there yet so much is wasted on unproductive activities. To put this capital to good use in the real world, it is no longer sufficient to offer purely monetary incentives. To engage this generation of gamers, we believe that game mechanics are not only useful, but essential.
How to use game mechanics to achieve our goals
In practice, using game dynamics to engage participants to perform important tasks involves the application of a set of principles and concepts from the gaming world. These principles will be applied within the context of a social media infrastructure built around the idea of identifying, selecting and completing social projects.
A non-exhaustive list of such concepts and ideas is provided here:
- Achievements represent virtual or physical proof of having accomplished something meaningful. They provide a way for successful participants to display their accomplishments and brag about them, while offering incentives for others to increase their involvement and engagement with the project.
- Behavioral momentum is the idea that ‘players’ expend more and more time on activities of their choosing as they form a habit of ‘playing’
- Blissful productivity means that gamers are happier when they work hard at a game than they are when they are relaxing and wallowing in idleness. It means that ‘productive work’ can be fun and rewarding as long as adequate game dynamics are in place
- Cascading Information Theory is the idea that information should be released in small, digestible chunks as participants go along and engage themselves more deeply with the project. The alternative of being presented with overwhelming amounts of data, most of which may not be relevant yet, tends to result in the abandonment of the project.
- Community collaboration places a whole community of individuals before problems that are to be solved by working together on a voluntary basis instead of delegating specific tasks to specific people in a hierarchical way.
- Epic meaning is a concept from the gaming world which signifies the feeling of gamers as they work toward something which is bigger than themselves and which carries real significance. It is in a sense the prime mover which sets into motion all the actions and productive activities and in another sense the goal toward which it is all directed.
- Free lunch is the feeling that voluntary cooperation brings as players discover they can benefit from work that has already been done by others. Although “there ain’t no such thing...” in traditional power dynamics, there most definitely is in game dynamics and spontaneously formed order.
- Levels are visual indications of getting closer to a goal and give players a sense of progression and achievement
- Ownership is the basis of market interaction and must be central to any form of collaboration which is to have any chance of success. Without owning -- whether virtually or physically -- the fruits of one’s labor, the incentive for productive activity is drastically impaired.
- Points, like levels and achievements, are explicit reminders that something meaningful has been accomplished. It is something that gamers are intensely familiar with, but is sadly missing from real life, which has no explicit sense of direction other than what is felt internally by individuals.
- Status is the culmination of many of these other concepts, it is both the objective and subjective measure of what has been achieved within the context of the ‘game’. It is intensely individual and is unthinkable without the concept of ownership. It may involve a number of elements such as points, levels, achievements, time spent and connections with others. Status is the primary motivation for many, but not all players.
- Urgent optimism is essential to every game, but missing from countless of individuals in real life. It is the idea that any task or mission that is received within a game can be completed successfully and can and must be tackled immediately.
Changing the world, one achievement at a time
The success of games have directed the intellectual capital and productive capacity of whole generations of youths toward idle entertainment. Meanwhile, truly meaningful initiatives remain untouched and unloved, and the productive engine of society is increasingly dependent on an ever smaller group of producers and innovators.
We must tap the virtually bottomless resources of time, energy and expertise that reside in these generations of gamers and apply them to a higher goal: the maximization of the social value of the community.
This can be done by engaging these gamers in our projects through the use of a social networking infrastructure which draws heavily on game dynamics. Participants will compete with one another for status, expressed in points and achievements, and reach higher levels with a sense of urgent optimism in a state of blissful productivity, but always keeping in mind the project’s epic meaning.
And our meaning is epic indeed. It is to change the world. It will happen one project, one level, one achievement at a time, but the result will be community collaboration on a scale that has never been seen before, all directed toward a goal that is the loftiest of all.
Our vision is epic and our ideas revolutionary. All we ask is a moment of your time and a pinch of effort. We are confident that you will do the rest. The future is now and it is called The Social Corporation.