Community As Game, II

Had an interesting presentation in London yesterday with a large charitable organisation interested in a partnership.  They asked quite a lot of questions regarding our game concept (per a previous post, regarding applying MMORPG design and functionality to a social networking site in order to make it fun and engaging).  It’s encouraging to see this validated, as I’m really taking us out on a limb here…but I feel that this is a valid direction for us to go.  It’s just a bit difficult as it’s nothing that anyone has done before.  Well, hell…success or failure, at least it will be interesting.

In the process of designing the xp/levelling functionality attached to user actions; it’s quite complicated.  If you state that users can level from 0 to 5, say, and you want to have most people achieving level 5 within six months if they work at it.  What tasks earn points, and how do you prevent them from gaining additional xp after a certain point – similar to quests or mobs greying out in WoW?  This is to prevent people from doing a hundred one-word blog posts or one-sentence reviews in order to level.  So, not only do you need to control levelling, you need to be able to reverse points out for inacceptable social behaviour, you need to have a combination of levelling actions and quest rewards, you need to calculate and track all points for each user.  There’s quite a bit of development work here.

Also, in a tiered community structure based on age group and interests, how do you change the experience for kids, for teens, and for adults?  The quest analogy works quite well for kids, somewhat so for teens as long as you don’t trigger that “uncool factor”, and not at all for adults, which would be more of a trust-rating or status level, no quest analogy involved at all.

Some of the quest-based activity would involve non-site-related media, such as text messaging, microsites, and bot clue-givers in chatrooms.  (I’m thinking of the recent game that the BBC site ran…was it Jaime West?  A quite involved game regarding tracking down clues as to the whereabouts of a missing pop star.  This is the type of thing that I’d like to run occasionally to add a fun factor to the site.

Well, enough chatter…off for a lunchtime walk.  In the cold.  :D



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