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Monday, August 1, 2011

GETTING GAMIFIED: WHY THE CORPORATE WORLD SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO GAMERS


In the last few months, I have redefined my chosen career path and have been busy networking and exploring new opportunities that may have been previously disregarded. I have made new, exciting network connections that only spurn my desire to explore my options further. Despite the process not being foreign or "new" to me (that of a job search), things are definitely different this time around. I could attribute it to my ever-increasing age; which, according to most, brings growth in wisdom and knowledge. I could attribute it to my lovely fiancee and say she has finally grounded me so that I can root myself in and "get it work." However, I feel that it is very simply put how and why little things are different and better. I got "gamified."


IT WORKED BETTER THAN A SOCIAL STUDIES CLASS EVER DID

When I first started playing World of Warcraft (WoW), I had to absorb an insane amount of information regarding: how to play; which faction, class and race to choose; which profession to level; and, of course, how to survive in the game. This forced me to dissect a large volume of information and categorize it based on my desires (how to play) and needs (how to stay alive while learning to how to play). I studied and integrated what I had learned while goal-setting to achieve certain levels and experiences. I began to develop routines that were successful so far as time management (how long did I need to play to reach a goal) and process improvement (how could I improve what I was doing to become more efficient).

A LESSON FOR CORPORATE AMERICA? 

A gamer has the ability to absorb large quantities of information while quickly processing which information is globally relevant, personally relevant and irrelevant. Gamers are skilled time-managers; just ask any gamer who is married with children and a full-time job. Gamers are ever-adapting "players" who are constantly seeking out knowledge regarding how global changes can benefit them (changes by the developer); how changes in the gaming environment can affect them (other gamers on the same server/realm); and how their own personal changes can affect the rest of the environment (their associations, professions and play-style choice).

MEMBERS OF THE "I LOVE THE AUCTION HOUSE" CLUB

Some gamers are adept "gold-makers," who go after earning wealth through in-game currency. When this began in the early WoW years, I doubt even Blizzard Entertainment thought that this community would grow exponentially. Today, there are numerous blogs dedicated to sharing the knowledge of "gold-making" gaming methods and practices and thousands of video game-related blogs in general. There are communities like JMTC, Power Word: Gold, and Addicted to Azeroth that post regular podcasts, videocasts and live streams of their gaming experiences. There are people who have written guides regarding these strategies and have marketed themselves into earning $10,000 a month in advertising sales. However, this is only the explosion of how the information is being projected across the world. I haven't even touched on the largest benefit for these gold-makers: economic understanding.

A LESSON FOR CORPORATE AMERICA?

Personally, it was the movie "Pi" that did it for me; I became a (fictional) card-carrying member of the "I Hate Stocks, Investments and Economics" Club. I had absolutely no desire to increase my knowledge of anything related to investments, bonds, the NYSE or anything like that...until I began playing the Auction House market in WoW. As a gamer, I began learning which professions were the most profitable and how I could use them to find every possible advantage on the market. In addition, I learned to use websites such as The Undermine Journal to track the market's ebbs and flows. I discovered which items were in most demand and researched how to get them. I made sure I was supplying and satisfying as many demands as I could find on the AH Market. In short, I took a lowly bankroll of under 100 gold and turned it into over 50K gold in just under two months. Gamers have an innate instinct: survival. At this point in my gaming career, economic growth was an integral part in my surviving and excelling in the game. Gamers are used to things changing. We are used to being proactive, innovative thinkers because it is essential to our in-game survival and success.

WE ARE CEOT: (Chief Executive Officers in Training)

When I began a guild (much like an in-game corporation), I began it as a small two-person guild with the simple goal of playing (working towards goals) with my friend. At the time, as there were only two of us, it did not matter how we played or what we did. There was no pressure to increase our membership or to level the guild for benefits because all we wanted was "a place to hang out" and make progress, together. And then we met other gamers that joined the guild...

Suddenly, there was pressure to increase membership and grow our "little corporation" because guildmates (employees) wanted the guild to level for player benefits to become unlocked and available. I marketed my guild across a variety of platforms (in-game and also through a guild website) but had little success. I struggled to compete for membership against the larger guilds who had many benefits unlocked, already; so, I knew I had to come up with an innovative way to attract members. It was then that I became the first Guildmaster to offer Gold Rewards for players who leveled their characters in my guild (their collectively earned experience is what levels my guild). I used my marketing strategy to pull in almost 50 new members and have since been paying them to level their players. I smile at that idea; however, it's the actual "Gold Reward" structure that I developed that makes me smile the widest.

The early levels (1-30) can be achieved rather quickly, so I decided to pay rewards every ten levels at a staggered rate of increase). Reaching Level 10 earned you 10gold. Level 20 earns you 20g, and so on and so forth. The genius behind this is that when I pay a player in the early levels, I pay them often, but in small amounts. It will take them a few weeks to reach Levels 40-50 if they play often and daily, so I give myself plenty of time to earn the gold I will have to pay them in the future; the larger rewards: 80g @ Level 80 and another 85g @ Level 85, which is the current level cap. This staggered rate of increase reward system has never come close to putting me "in the red" despite paying out several thousand gold to leveling members.

After just two months, my "small company" grew into a "budding corporation" and I, as the Guildmaster/CEO, suddenly had to diversify and keep numerous different departments underneath me happy! Despite having no desire, personally, to delve into PVP (Player Vs Player Battles and Tournaments), I had to develop ways to keep the PVP gamers in my guild happy. Unlike the real world, you can switch guilds/companies in-game in a matter of seconds. No two-week notice required. You don't even have to say goodbye (truthfully, they may not even notice you departed). Therefore, it is extremely important for me to ensure I am recruiting (hiring) new guildmates who have a desire to PVP. It means I had to promote one of my original guildmates to an officer position, and put him in charge of PVP (setting up teams, times to play, tournaments, etc.) because I had (a) too many things on my plate, and (b) no desire to be the guild spokesman for PVP.

A LESSON FOR CORPORATE AMERICA? 

In just under four months, I began and grew my guild into a recognized standard of helpfulness and generosity on my server. People come to the guild because of the way I run things by being friendly, social and generous. I insist our members are helpful in raising awareness of the game and take the time away from their own goals to ensure newer gamers have mentors and people to answer their questions (or help them in a specific situation). I guess that would be my guild's Mission Statement, in short! 

By starting this guild,I learned the value of marketing and innovative strategy (gold rewards for leveling) to find success in a field of larger competitors. I learned to analyze areas of opportunity (and gameplay) that I am not interested in, because it potentially had value to the overall success of the guild. I learned to integrate a "corporate structure" of officers whose roles include anything from recruiting and policing members, to being the driving force of a specific area of gameplay, like PVP or Raiding.

RECENTLY ANNOUNCED...A GAME-CHANGER, IF YOU WILL...

With the announcement by Blizzard Entertainment that Diablo 3 will include a real-life money Auction House, the gaming world is abuzz... Will there be an insurgence of self-made millionaires? We already have guilds that are sponsored by large companies and are essentially paid to be the "World's First" to accomplish in-game content. We have already seen World of Warcraft create gold-making bloggers and entrepreneurs who market their guides and strategies from home as their full-time job and make a great living doing so. Will we next see a gamer who sits at home, plays Diablo 3 in eight-hour stretches and earns close to $1,000 a day? You may laugh and shake your head, but in the days of Everquest, I knew a gamer who sold all his in-game accomplishments and content on eBay for a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Now that you have the information and a little perspective, I urge you both, Young & Corporate America; GET GAMIFIED!

Has all of this information changed your opinion on gamers and video-gaming? How do you feel that gaming has enhanced your real-life skill set? What other benefits are there to getting gamified?

3 comments:

  1. Ahh if only. Pre law, but I keep gaming on the down low so that future employers don't have extra doubts or w/e. But playing the AH teaches a lot.

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  2. Good summary of what we're doing in corporate talk. Now I wish that people that know me could understand as easily that it's not "just a game" or an addiction.

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  3. Thank you both for the comments.

    @Khalior: I actually met with a corporate employee of a well-known company that is headquartered, here, in Minnesota about gamers and how more and more companies are recognizing the value of gaming. The conversation with him was what sparked my desire to write this article. :)

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