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Aug 01, 2007





The whole web2.0 paradigm of active multiple contributors, shared groups, tagging other people, transparent wikis...it all seems to break down a lot of structure. Some may not like it - it seems all to chaotic.
Personally I am throwing myself into the deep end, jetboots and all....and you know what? I like it!
The people who are afraid of it might be the ones who like to keep information to themselves, protect their job, guard their secret false sense of importance and hide in their corporate ivory tower! Some people just dont like to share! It will take a little before everyone feels comfortable, so chip away, chip away...


Niceties over. Now to get into why you are completely wrong in every respect.

Actually no. And I’m just musing here: on initial reading I’m fearful of the: if everything is a game then the word has not meaning, reaction to what you are saying. And I wonder if it’s useful to think along the lines of Rule 34.

“If it exists, there’s porn of it. No exceptions”

In this case we might say:

“If it exists, you can game it. No exceptions”

Since talking to a few people, including some IBMers, and from reading Thomas Malby’s recent work on the notion of game and, of course, Pat Kayne’s Play Ethic, I’ve got more into the utility of gaming systems and why it works.

The thing I’m looking at, at the moment (purely for research purposes you understand) is http://iminlikewithyou.com. For that that have neve hung out on dating sites, there are a lot of games that go on that a are implicitly enabled by the affordances of and data / tracking presentation of the system. Often there are rankings, so there is the game of getting up the ranking, there is also the game of being linked with highly ranked individuals – it goes on.

The key seems to be to pick out those elements that can be gamed, structuring them and creating a system that enables play. But not those elements that would distract from the supposed purpose.

Which gets interesting, as there may not be coincidence between the optimal game, and the optimal external outcomes, at least in the eyes of some stakeholders. In some cases this may not be a problem as the optimal game may also have the optimal external outcome as a bi-product. However where there is actual or perceived miss-alignment one can see issues.

I wonder if there is a growing trade here in organizational game design that takes into account such factors.


"Will it work?"

It will...the doll-house game worked pretty well and i'm pretty sure it has a major role in my forming. At least that's my relatives' opinion.

"This new way of thinking, of being open, of collaborating, of self organizing could be considered as a peasant sword factory. A feudal system break down enabled by education and communication."

I can only hope we're not going to repeat the RL history's mistakes : we should be able to keep and preserve some of the feudalism values.

Maybe it starts with defining the goals , the paths and the terms.

Anyways you rem me of " Virgin "'s CEO . Bow.

"...It started with a kiss .."


First let me say, congrats Ian and Roo on you guest blogging (can you really be a guest blogist when we look at the ability of all of us to comment).

I read both of your entry and Roo's comment with interest. Having worked for Small, Medium, and finally extremely large corporations I have to agree that there is a lot PvP going on. It doesn't matter what size the company is, people love to play corporate games. The "Fix my Gadget" game is probably one of the most complex. As I've looked at my career, I have slowly moved from being Technical to focusing on Business. The transition is very difficult since people always want you to "Fix their whatevers" putting you back into the technical role. I have long realized that the game only works if you let people define you by titles and not by what you do.

I think meritocracies are the things which will hopefully break down those PvP traps and allow us all to finish the real Quest - which is to be successful in our own right.


@Michael Rowe

Roo did not comment. I did. Ren. I'm his identical twin. This is going to get very confusing.


@wonderwebby I do agree some people do not like to share and knwoledge is power. It may be though the greater power is that knowledge that sharing works :-)

@ren reynolds(no relation to roo promise)
You did nearly catch me with the start of that comment :-) I suspect that what we have seen from good politicians, con men, social climbers (not a set related in anyway other than this list :-)) is they have identified what can be gamed and game it.
It may be the case that this web wave of sharing and the part of social video gaming means that more people are made aware of the tricks of the trade.
e.g. if only a car salesman uses nuero-liguistic programming techniques then they will always win. Arm everybody with them and we get a stale mate in terms of one upmanship, but a general degree of greater communication.
We saw a greater use of story telling hit the corporate world, with story board and more literary and film techniques used in recent years, so now may be the time for this sort of game approach to be embedded in the business world.

@Amarilla I agree that some elements of a feudal nature need to be kept. The balance of anarchy with that of a command control structure seems to be needed. In a self organizing system it would appear that some common goal forms and becomes the feudal lord in its own right.
I have been compared to many thing in the past, but Richard Branson has not been one of them. I am honoured to even consider that option :-)

@michael rowe I know the Roo/Ren thing was a typo :-)
I do have a lot of time for veyr good business people. Business acumen and skills take a lot of gaining, though often it seems easier to bluff and politic in that space than in a more technical area. Also technology tends to be a calling that means we want to fix the gizmo as we get a personal satisfaction and pay off. So to keep the analogy going fixing the gizmo is a mini-game, a suduko puzzle we choose to engage with.


@renreynolds My deepest appologies ...

Ian I agree that good business people are an asset and continue to strive to be one. And I keep my technical skills up with PC & Mac activities at home. keep up the good blogging.


As you draw lines between games and reality and include character types such as the "manager," I was drawn to the curious question: What is the FirstLife equivalent to the 40 man raid?


I am sure I will catch grief for this one.. but a 40 man raid would be an accelerated project team... LOL


A 40 man raid could be some open source project that threatens to undermine a product.
Any disruptive technology trend starts with a 40 man raid too.


Great post. I'll try not to let my envy of those within the industry who are getting the financial and organizational support needed to let ideas flow, foster and grow get in the way of my having any real opinion on what is happening here.

Oh wait...


lol, methinks he doth protest too much, presumably a 'metaverse evangalist' gets his rocks off by counting game scores and the number of 14 year olds he can beat on PS3 and that his job card is trumped by office cleaner!


@nate if only you knew...... :-)Just imagine day 1. Look these 3d things wander around and you can talk to one another, build things. Its not a game but its going to be huge. Yes they do fly... yes that was a tail you saw.... what do you mean its silly?

@tina I am a gamer, my gamercard matters to me in a must get more achievment points than my friends type of way :-) My job title is my own doing and helps provoke discussion and removes the game element in a business discussion.
A metaverse evangelist, like any tech evangelist spends their time explaining to people who find something not relevant, scary, threatening or just plain mad, why it is relevant to them and why not to ignore it. Putting challenging questions back to people, such as this post ;-)


@epredator isn't it a great feeling though?! I love being on the edge of this thing. I love explaining it to Microsofties in my area and watching thier expression go through all of the phases I have seen so many times. I love it when they say, "Do you know what this means!! Amazing!!". I love bringing this dream to new people and seeing thier eyes light up. Hense my envy of those who can afford to live in that every day. ;)


Man, I must "have a case of the Mondays". :D


@nate oh yes I do love it. Watching the move from joke, to threat to obvious as it dawns on people.


40 man raid: Obviously, anyone who's ever run a big tradeshow presence for their company knows what a 40 person raid is in real space. More dots!

Life as RPG: I grew up as a minister's daughter. I remember the point in my life when I realized my little friends didn't have to compartmentalize roles between "kid" "minister's kid" and "daughter of kick-ass take-no-prisoners nonviolent SCLC propagandist and bardic organizer."

I was 4. It was a strange time for me, because I suddenly realized that most people were, as I would call it now, single-threaded, even the adults.

But it seems to me that there are two threads here -- on is about identity (playing the role), and one is about process (playing the game). They are separable. People do one or the other and not both; people sometimes do one consciously and are asleep over the other.

Now I have a day job (development director, PR at http://tor.eff.org) that I describe as an "international human rights LARP."

And in my spare time, I'm a virtual worlds business analyst (starting up a mixed reality consulting company) and a freelance business reporter for in-world media in SL.

I have found in past jobs (managing computer/network security on clusters or the backbone at MIT and UNC/Chapel Hill, for example) that if I *didn't* view the whole thing as a game, there would be times when it seemed unbearably like real war.

So I play roles, swap them like hats. Mom, beloved one, Tor exec, grrl reporter on the business beat in SL, local politico, media criticism blogger. We all change "registers" -- how we think and speak, even the body language we use, when we go from, say, speaking to a small child to taking on a hostile interview. But is it a different person, the self behind those two? We are our own puppeteers, and it's part of why we love theater and roleplaying games -- real life, or "game." Games are an extension of our normal capacity to relate to one another in this multitool sense.

And I play RP games, but serious games even when they are recreational -- my son (14, and goes way dark in KOTOR) claims I'm boring because my characters are always "neutral good." I am testing my puppeteer.

There's only so far I can go off type and remain comfortable in any real or recreational game. I have my own internal metrics of integrity with this.

So is SL a game to me, or an extension of RL? I deal in RL every day with press contacts I've never met face to face, and have no more than a "profile" of information on, and a read from the fabric of reputation they carry around them. SL is little different to me, just a bit more fantastic.

And the threshold of entry for SL is lower at this point. You can become the CEO of a business inside SL with little skill -- and little risk.

I really love Robt. Bloomfield's comment last week in LIfe4U that the in-world markets were not games, but toys (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiAG06k9m7o), that you can do real work with a toy train but if it goes off the rails, nobody dies.

I'd propose that many people use SL, volunteering, tabletop or computer RPGs -- not as games but as toys -- to build skills, and to try out identities in an environment with social consequences. But not dire ones.


rofl, epotato, so if I dont agree with you I must not agree with the technology? I love the technology, I live it, breathe it and make a stack of money from it.
I just object to the egotistical psycho babble you use to justify your existence within IBM. If you really believed in what you preach you would be part of it rather than commentating from the side lines from your comfy risk free corporate home.


@shava Thankyou, I agree the separation of persona from the elements of the game does make sense. The principle of toy/simulation/tweaking to learn also make sense.
People being able to practive things, such as being a mini CEO and learn to run a business in a virtual world all make perfect sense.
I guess a question is when the persona's use the toys for a game that is not the obvious one what happens. What is the game. Which fits with some of the separation that Ren was discussing.


@tina It is interesting that you think I am in a comfy risk free corporate home and commentating from the sidelines. My comfy corporate home was not as focussed on the virtual world business until I started to immerse myself and those around me in it.
I am glad you make a stack of money at it. At the moment its costing me in a number of ways.
However as part of a large body of people with a goal I view it as important to help my people for some common good. That may sound overly philanthropic and some people will assume I am mad.
The corporate world has allowed me access to a large body of people with great vision. I doubt that I would be here guest writing if I had just gone off of my own in the early days.
I may look back in years to come and wish I had got rich quick :-) In fact you may have started me thinking that already :-(
BTW re the previous comment and gaming successes I forgot to mention my 4 year old beat me on Wii golf on her first go :-)


well epotato all I can say is wake up and smell the coffee!
You draw your monthly pay check, trade on the IBM name to push your ego and another companies technology and worry about the 'cost' to you and the missed opportunity to get rich.
I am sure 'your' people really respect your integrity


@tina its who I work for. I act with integrity and I hope people do respect it. If they dont thats their problem. Back to the role playing analogy. I tend to pick honourable game characters and there is more to life than money.
However there is a line to be drawn in being strong and not to be taken advantage of. Thats not what this post was about as such.
Even the strongest of characters in an RPG an be overwhelmed by lots of sneaky ones.
There is honour to be maintained in all actions though, just everyone's code is different.
If we understand, and can see the motivations of others then that means less conflict, does not remove it, but reduces it.
I do however respect your wishes to follow your path.


lol epotato, I guess you are now being deliberately obtuse or perhaps you can't separate your propaganda from reality. Your real world behaviour is shallow and self centred which by your own argument means your RPG behaviour must match it.


@tina It is interesting that we appear to be sparring, but atleast we are doing it openly. Here though we only get to use words. In another place your depth versus my apparent shallowness may be more obvious the the onlooker.
In real life if you turn up in monaco on your large private yacht due to good luck, keen business sense, but I turn up in a rental compact car with a roof rack on, or vice vierse then people can make judgement on depth, wealth etc.
When ego's are battling there is a mix of actual power and depth of feeling and some flourishes that are merely for show.
As I am suggesting its all a game anyway, some people want to just win, some want to play with style, others want to experiment out of curiosity.
Which are you?
Hypothetically in a corporate environment would you be pushing the boundaries or following a directed line?
The world needs both types of people they complement one another, but there is a competitve balance to be explored in a company, or cross companies.
Self centered, everyone is. But thats for the philosphers out there.


Please spare us more ramblings epotato, I reckon IBM must pay you by the word!
There are people who can hack it in the virtual world in their own right and those that hide in a safe corporate environment.
We have both made our choices but please spare those of us who are doing this stuff for real your irrelevant musings.
As for comparisons with Richard Branson, in your dreams!!
Anyway, I reckon your macho ego will want to have the last word so over to you, I am bored with this.


Business is also a role playing game, and we are asked to play our role which is defined in our job description. Indeed, I think, that soft skills training within business’ organizations stress what is the person and what is the role that play within the organization.

Most of our activities where we are relating to others human beings could fall into this name of role playing game. However, it seems that it is the personal outcome, in the meaning of its consequences, what lead us into thinking about if it is a game or not.

Politics playing, in the meaning of personal advance against business advance, is in essence, against any top management wishes. Yes, we could argue long to fill a terabyte, but by its own definition, it is usually on the “we don’t want it” list. However, politics playing has been the name of game for corporate advance, and it has been so because business metrics are very limited.

In addition, business are taking in consideration that those metrics that predict future business performance, instead of past performance, are rather more related to soft skills, organization wide. However, when you get those metrics coming out from your strategic plan, there is no tool to be used out the box.

So, a corporate role playing metaverse, where we could implement more complex performance metrics on an ongoing and timely basis, could bring the tools that actually lack any business infrastructure.


@vindi I agree with you that personal politics for personal advance may well be against the wished of a management control structure. Though it comes down to boundaries of interest. If you are a shareholder in two companies you also do not want them to enagage in head to head destructive acts of politics.
I supposed I do not really make any distinctions between business goals and politics in any great sense.
I am wondering if the soft skills will actually become more apparent in a PvP context. When the blunt instruments of competition are replaced by a more diplomatic approach. We often see people behaving in a different, sometimes more friendly way, in non game virtual worlds. Will a more transparent system where we see the weapons people have at their disposal lead to a less aggressive approach to business and lead to more cooperation?
I am guessing personality types will come into play here though as much as game roles do. However, its worth a thought or two?


Tina, if I didn't know from otherwise from your comments, I'd have thought you were the boorish, macho male, not epredator. You're the one with a chip on your shoulder, mentioning that you “make a stack of money” in the industry, and came on strong on the offensive with ridicule and attempts at shaming. All very “macho” behaviors. And very rude and annoying.

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