Tag Archives: longcat tautology

Gamifying Communities

People who know me personally are pretty much sick of hearing me say this: “…which reminds me of something in Reality is Broken.  Dude,”—(And that’s the gender-neutral use of dude, just so we’re clear, à la gender-issues think tank Less Than Jake)—”you should really read that book.”

You should, though.

The point is that lots of people in lots of businesses are thinking about games, game creation, and game mechanics. Some figure out what the motivates their communities, and it’s fun and it works. Some take the copy/paste approach use this reasoning:

  • I saw [online community] use an XP system, and it worked.
  • Therefore, we should employ an XP system, and accordingly, all sentient beings will be drawn to our page, and they will have The Funnest Ever, and the throngs will teem with diversion and merrymaking, and songs will be sung of our engagement in the mead-halls of community management henceforth.

This doesn’t always work out because of what I hope will one day be called the Longcat Tautology: Different communities are different.

That’s why I urge caution when I detect calls to leap upon, or otherwise heave oneself bodily, atop the moving bandwagon. (I just thought up the word “brandwagon” but I opted not to use it. Sometimes it is the job of the writer to explore the ghastliest depths of punnery and then, perversely, protect the reader from it.) I don’t agree with the statement that

Ultimately, people play games for a chance to win

or a great many other statements in that article, but I do agree with the nobility of efforts to

Know what motivates the various groups in your community and feed those motivations.

from same.  I feel that, from a purely gaming perspective, a spacious swath of counterexamples abound, from Diablo to Draw Something. Unless you are Charlie Sheen, winning is only superficially the point. The act of actually playing it—testing your mettle against those arbitrary and unnecessary restrictions—is the actual fun part. In the world of what I refuse to call “hardcore” gaming, where consumers swing, Tarzan-like, from one $60 vine to the next, completion is assumed.

There is really a paralyzing volume of topics to be explored at the intersection of gaming and communities. I presume this will be the first of many returns to the topic in the coming months, but I want to see what kind of themes arise from the people I speak with and go from there.

That reminds me, you should read Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal.

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