Game mechanics aren't just for games anymore. Designers of all social apps increasingly depend on gameplay to motivate users, and direct them towards goals. Organizations, too, use games to engage employees and customers to encourage full participation. Many familiar game mechanics are deeply rooted in competition, pitting people against each other using familiar elements like leaderboards and zero-sum rewards. But there's an alternative: cooperative games provide a wholly different palette to product designers that want to put their users on the same side of a goal.
Cooperative games are one way to build a smarter social web, one which organizes people to work together to accomplish really big things.
In this highly interactive session we'll actually play a cooperative game to demonstrate how they work. We'll trace these dynamics as they appear in board games (Pandemic, Lord of the Rings), knowledge games used in organizations for brainstorming and planning ("Gamestorming"), and social Web apps (KickStarter, Get Satisfaction).
The session will explore the specific mechanics that make this such an effective method for inspiring group performance.
- Victory conditions
- External conflicts
- Roles & special powers
- Required sharing
- Coordination & planning
- And occasionally...Traitors!
Generally speaking, there's an assumption that casual games are a waste of time. What can playing a "meaningless" Facebook game for a few minutes really accomplish, anyways? Do I really need to "rescue" another "sheep"? Another point of view is that they're a little bit sinister, manipulating you into emptying your wallet, or giving up personal information. But perhaps both positions are missing the point. This new genre we call "Casual Social Games" represents a fascinating opportunity to better understand our own behavior, and to direct it, intentionally, for our own benefit, and for the greater good of society.
11th–15th March 2011