So for the last few months I’ve been hearing all these so-called “Social Media Experts” (Not something I believe exists) talking about how “gamification” in the future of Social Media. While that’s a fairly true statement, it is often overlooked that social gaming has been around for a while. Both in smaller communities like World or Warcraft (not that it is that small) and in large-scale communities like Fantasy Football, social gaming has been around for a while. So let’s focus on the Fantasy Football, I figure it will probably consume the next 16 weeks of my life any way…
Fantasy Football is an extension of NFL football on to the web, where users generate all of the content, including re-distributing the NFL roster. Think about the features of a typical Fantasy Football League…
User Generated Experience-
League Name (Name your own community)
Team Name (You control what your profile in the community)
Members of the Community (This can often be either random people or an invite only situation)
Rules for Gamification (how about that, the user controls the game rules)
Trophies/Rewards (All the incentives to Fantasy Football other than the simple win are designed by the users in the community)
So to recap, the user basically creates everything with only the use of the NFL season and roster as their information. Hmmm, I don’t think it takes a genius to see that Fantasy Football is the premier social gaming model today. It takes a fairly common experience, following the NFL, and creates an unbelievably social upgrade to the experience using the web. Sound familiar? It should. Zynga the social gaming company repeats this same formula with “Words with Friends”. (Most people understand how scrabble works) Then there is the bigger Social Media concept that all started based on the same concept as Fantasy Football.
FACEBOOK is based on the same principles as Fantasy Football.
1. The entire concept can be broken down as a utility to better experience the real world. (FF focuses on on single sport, Facebook originally focused on college social life)
2. The user creates and crafts their identity. (The user chooses who they are, and how their profile is built)
3. The user chooses who to share their experience with. (FF has invite only leagues, and Facebook is driven by friend invites)
4. The user controls the rules of the game. (FF has rules set by the group, while Facebook has a group understood rules concept that develops over time)
5. They are both games in which the Trophies and Rewards (and value of said rewards) are determined by those you’ve chosen to invite into your community. (This is where it gets the most interesting.)
Digging deeper into #5 we come to a question: Is Facebook a Game? (Not to go back to economics again) Absolutely it is a game! Think of it this way- you create a profile with unique attributes, then in order to play you must participate in a conversation, while in the mean time building up “klout” (Klout.com check it out, you might find it interesting after this article.) in your network of friends through such rewards as likes and comments. The game I just described above goes further. Because while building up a friends list and earning likes is important, this is nothing compared to the trophies that are out there. Trophies like “relationships”, tags in photos, and of course larger friend lists.
Facebook is the gamification of the college experience. Taking in only real life information of your college experience and then putting the right “motivations” in place to play the game. I still think it has the same intention and result of Fantasy Football in that it offer an improved experience on top of the already good NFL (college) experience. So next time you’re on Facebook… look around… see if you start to notice the game you’re playing.
Thanks for Listening,