Business is about people, people play games

Hence business is about games? This does not mean that business is about any highly structured rules based board game like monopoly, nor does it mean that it is about a counterstrike mission to capture a flag, though all of these do apply in some context to business. Instead it could be said that business is about the politics of people knowing one another a little better, for some that is to get the best form one another, for others it is to get the drop on someone and exploit a weakness.
In my move from intrapreneur to entrepreneur I am of course trying to understand which game it is that we are all playing. My observation is that it really is not any different either in or outside a large organization from the types of games that you play in order to get things done.
Interestingly a recent piece from Gamasutra at casual connect brought out some themes from a piece by Playdom VP of Game Design Steve Meretzky and Executive Producer David Rohrl, along with Hit Detection founder N’Gai Croal. This was of course to try and help people understand where social games fit into the landscape of the games industry. I fully agree with the trends identified in the piece, but I though I would apply these not to social games in AAA games industry, but to business as a game.

Trend 1: Virtual Worlds
Any organization of people, a.k.a. a corporate, is a really a virtual world. It has boundaries, access controls, terms of service. Metaverses help highlight this as people gather and form other corporate structures such as guilds.

Trend 2: Customization and Personalization
Individuals in a business all strive to either blend in or differentiate themselves, all businesses try to do the same in their market place.

Trend 3: Collections & Wish Lists
Aspirations of collecting rank, awards, accolades, prizes, end of year ratings all sit in regular business.

Trend 4: System Simulators
In games this applies to feeling some mastery over something other than blind luck. Being part of an system and seeing the impact of small adjustments is really the payoff.

Trend 5: Narrative
Established businesses trade on their brand, their reputation and what is means to engage with them. Companies place one another in a pecking order and treat competitors as the bad guys. This is all part of the story of business.

Trend 6: Making Missions More Interesting
Motivation for a team is important. Boredom and a feeling of worthless activity does not help a business grow. Making work interesting and challenging will always get the best from people.

Trend 7: Gift Invites
Come join our organization, as an employee or as a customer. We see this with all sorts of incentives to attract people to business. Vouchers, special deals, sales etc. all fit into gift invites.

Trend 8: Donations as Revenue
In many businesses it is regarded as “professional” when a salaried employee to invest more time and effort than is contracted to help the business. Asking customers for feedback, even with a potential prize for an answer, is another donation to a company.

Trend 9: New Horizons in Virtual Goods
I do not see any difference between a real and virtual good or product. A business has to provide something people value. If that is software, consulting, digital media or a car all business looks for new horizons for products.

Trend 10. Using Friends’ Gameplay Data
This would appear to fit with the old adage it’s not what you know but who you know. In all business relationships you will hear people refer to what others have done and where they fit in that social structure.

Trend 11. The iPhone and Social Games
How many businesses do not have a need for remote and mobile communications? In many ways it was the business user that caused the massive rise in mobile phone usage and the need to be permanently attached to the business.

Trend 12. Capitalizing on Player Resources
When someone chooses to work on a project, or with a business, or when a deal is made all parties involved are capitlizing on the existing resources of the parties involved.

So whether you are the largest corporation on the planet or the smallest would be startup you are in fact a casual game injected a global platform. The reach we all have now to organize and share is the same reach that is making social games so successful.
Just as the AAA games industry may have missed or turned its nose up initially to social games, AAA corporate business needs to make sure it does not turn its nose up to small interconnected business, or they may find themselves out flanks and their flags captured.

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