We’re just trying to get our heads around Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, squinting through the mourning veil we’ve donned for our beloved books (the real ones, not the “e-” variety), which Nicholas Negroponte of MIT’s Media Lab tells us will be gone in five years.

Now we’re being told “decade of social” is over. What? Already?

That’s the argument of Seth Priebasch, who writes in the Harvard Business Review (September 9, 2010) that the “decade of games” is upon us. While the last decade was all about connections and integrating a social fabric to every facet of our digital and analog existence, this next decade is all about influence. Oh, for heaven’s sakes!

When he speaks of games, Priebasch is referring to the underlying behavioral dynamics, not specific game software such as World of Warcraft and Farmville or hardware like Nintendo Wii and Xbox. These dynamics, he predicts, will alter such non-computer environments as customer service, workplace, entertainment, and shopping.

We should probably listen to him. He is 21 after all. And he’s the “Chief Ninja” (something oldsters quaintly refer to as “CEO”) of SCVNGR, a mobile gaming company funded by Google. “I tend to think of life as a giant game,” he writes, “a somewhat poorly designed for sure, but one big game nevertheless. I enjoy watching how game dynamics subtly, often invisibly, influence almost everything that everyone does.”

So that’s the game then: gaining influence, manipulating choices. The social network infrastructure was built so we could track and channel the traffic. Nice.

Games are certainly the rage. President Obama recently announced two video game design competitions, one to encourage students to get more interested in technology (the winners will get $50,000 worth of computer stuff for their schools), the other for pros to conjure up a game to spark young interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

Priebasch says there are seven game dynamics that can be employed to “get anyone to do anything.” His favorites:

  • The Appointment Dynamic — a “player” must return at a predefined time to take a predetermined action. Happy hours would be an example, as would the online game Farmville. He foresees health care companies using this dynamic to improve fidelity to medicinal regimens or the government to reduce traffic overload with financial incentives.
  • The Progression Dynamic – the player’s progress (score) is displayed and improves with task completion. Example: Activision’s World of Warcraft, with 11 million monthly players worldwide or a café that offers a free drink once you’ve purchased nine.
  • Communal Discovery — An entire community works together to solve a problem. can be used to solve immensely difficult problems in record time.

Malcolm Gladwell said later in an interactive discussion at NewYorker.com: “Oy. Save me. This is what drives me crazy about the digerati. They refuse to accept the fact that there is a class of social problems for which there is no technological solution. … Technology does not and cannot change the underlying dynamics of ‘human’ problems: it doesn’t make it easier to love or motivate or dream or convince.”

To which I’d like to add: people playing games to manipulate other people. What’s new about that? All through recorded history, you can read about that. In a book.

ADDENDUM: Here’s a link to how businesses are using games to boost sales, training, and productivity: http://buswk.co/lQlVTg

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...