Game Theories

December 29, 2006 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Gaming | Leave a comment

I’ve noticed a steady uptick in articles about gaming from a business point of view.   Many of them like comparing the economic models in the gaming world and real world.  An example is a Ross Mayfield blog posting about gaming called The World Wide World:

Joi first for me and most naturally realized that MMORGs don’t adapt to the real world enough. The business is still perceived as a content business with a captive audience. Where users are not content generators, but accumulators. SL, to Philip Rosendale’s credit, breaks this mold where content is pre-dominantly generated by users. It also breaks the mold of embracing an open economy with other economies. But how much of the mold is broken?

As anyone who read my “5 things” posting knows, I have a background in the gaming industry so I still follow it with interest.  I have noted 3 aspects to how games apply to business (other than gaming as a business of course):

  1. Games as marketing. This subdivides into marketing with games (making your b2c website more interesting and sticky with free games) and marketing in games (e.g., selling billboard space in a racing game)
  2. Serious games. Overlapping categories of “game theory” , “simulation”, and “fun learning”. Examples include competitive simulations (like lemonade stand as a lesson in supply/demand based pricing) and military scenario testing
  3. Lessons from gaming. This starts with the assumption that games are often highly developed and well ahead of business apps in certain technologies (virtual reality, user interface, communication, collaboration, use of video/audio, interactivity and responsiveness). To paraphrase what I once told a peer that was needling me about pulling corporate UI ideas from the gaming world “The fact that users are paid to or have to use business applications is often a crutch that leads to poor design. There is a lot to be learned from an environment where people actually have to pay the developer to use their programs rather than the other way around”. (Actually, I was a bit more blunt: When he asked why he should listen to my UI idea given its source in the games I used to write, I said “Because people pay me to use my programs. We have to pay them to use yours.”)

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