Gamifying the Gift Economy

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Devin Balkind

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Apr 4, 2011, 12:39:09 PM4/4/11
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First there was the content layer (web 1.0), then the social layer (web 2.0) and now comes the semantic/game layer (web 3.0). 

The transition is taking place in the game layer.

We don't need technology to have a game - all we need is a group of people who respond to game mechanics delivered via real and/or virtual world interactions.

If we design a real world transition game built of human interaction, it'll be easy for us to port it to a web/mobile app.  Here's a list of mechanisms we can use sources from the Gamification.org Wiki


Let's discuss here and build out resources on the Gamification Wiki in the hopes of attracting a few into the discussion.  More comments to follow.

BenB

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Apr 4, 2011, 3:57:06 PM4/4/11
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Totally with you here Devin; although the thread title could come across as hypocrisy to the uninitiated!

I've not looked through the wiki yet, but recognize a solid basis for design by section headings alone. I'm conceptualizing a project that is moving more and more towards this very objective of growing awareness and bridging to action through dynamic incentive/feedback across the Transition movement.

Let's try and elaborate more in conversation. I'm not tied to solid models yet, but see these key elements:

Premise--Be the Transition

Play--progress yourself (person, kin, collective, community, region, sphere) towards regenerative culture, in verifiable action steps; that is, produce a web media resource which presents the basic who/what/when/where/why/how of your 'success story' (achievement) and submit it (as metadata via bookmarklet) to the "game" database.

Province--the 'map' of the realm of play is on one level the earth (GIS interface is primary) but also a concept map of Transition as a process, or as I'm phrasing it an 'open ecosocial ontology (of consensual Good)'. Have an initial draft growing in Cacoo.com shared diagram, happy to invite co-editors direct.

Points--all players are free to browse the database and review content, which is then rated subjectively in dimensions like scope/scale of impact, ingenuity/creativity, veracity/thoroughness, beauty/craft, 'production value', technical clarity, humor/entertainment, effort/investment, etc. These are given a dynamic weighted average 'total' which factors visibility to other players/browsers based on the viewer's values/profile/record, or by collective intelligence...flexible because -->

Reward--is based on open crowdsource prize/collab pools. Player/play visibility, which is based on merit and trust, conducts attention to your personal/group action resource base for continued/expanded work and engagement. As other players/browsers see and like what you do, they are lead to your linked (external) profile/workspace/crowdfund/publications, and contribute/engage there as prompted, and you are freshly empowered for your next play.

Spectatorship--all play is meant to be public and inviting. The 'plays' aggregate to a fantastic navigable multimedia repository and knowledgebase. Anyone can casually discover actions (success stories) by location, topic, participant/project, rating, chronology, and cluster (affiliations/federations), which are offered in abstract/thumbnail/embed form in-platform, and as-hosted elsewhere. Great 'news' environment, research space, networking and agora in one, with incremental levels of participation by intent and accomplishment, growing the game, co-creating the probable future.

Sound like some meta- #winning? But yes, I'd suggest let's find another way to say 'gamify' in this context...

Tatiana Maya

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Apr 5, 2011, 3:40:48 AM4/5/11
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guys...sorry...I know this conversation started before but I am a bit lost. I can recognize awesome stuff that I'd be interested in but I am confused, or it is not completely clear to me what the term 'gamification' is all about and, would you also give me your definition of 'gift economy'??

Cheers

Tati
--
Tatiana Maya

"Never offer the kind of help that disempowers. Never insist on offering the help you think is needed. Let the person or people in need know all that you have to give - then listen to what they want; see what they are ready to receive" Neale Donald Walsch

Devin Balkind

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Apr 5, 2011, 11:31:35 AM4/5/11
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Gamification is the act of making something into a game.  Games use certain mechanics, like points, badges, levels, challenges, etc.  Gaming is - of course - a perspective.  You could call our current economy a game, in which people try to acquire points ($) by performing challenges (working) to attain certain badges (titles) and level up (promotions) so they can win (retire.) 

If we can make a better game then the people will come.  The game's objective could be to launch and grow gift economies. 

In a gift economy, all exchanges are gifts.  People make gifts voluntary - because they want to - not because they expect to be immediately paid back (loan) or given something of similar value (barter.)  Gift economies aren't coercive - you don't have to give to receive - but if the community doesn't give enough, scarcity will arise, the gifting culture will be threatened and coercive exchange will arise. 

The general theory is that since free/libre/opensource (FLO) technology enables us to create more goods and services, we can achieve the level of voluntary production necessary to sustain and grow a gift economy. 

If we can create a game that allows people to earn points and badges by producing for the commons and then exchange those points for the things they want within the game, we'd have the start of a scalable solution.

Does that answer your question?

dimitz...@gmail.com

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Apr 5, 2011, 6:57:44 PM4/5/11
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Amazing!!
just as I was reading BenB's reply I was ready to hit reply and ask what this is all about :-p
but you answered it nicely, thanks!
it's amazing what you're doing!
--
Dimitris

dimitz...@gmail.com

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Apr 5, 2011, 7:01:39 PM4/5/11
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Now that game could be implemented on a website where small communities (eg. the people from a town) could go and "play" it, thus realizing the gift economy through it! The website-game could be the guide to it all, a great incentive for people to do it and (technically) easy to "play".
It's amazing, keep us updated please!
--
Dimitris

Devin Balkind

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Apr 6, 2011, 12:42:10 PM4/6/11
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I've been thinking in terms of roles and responsibilities: what jobs need to get done for production to take place and what is the relative value of those jobs.  I've begun to list them here: http://gamification.org/wiki/FLO_Farm/NYC_Regional

If all goes according to plan - when does it? - we'll be able to build the system as we build out our community in Eastern PA, maybe put together a survey for other intentional communities to help us identify some conventions and start solidifying a scheme that could be built out into a application.

Does anyone here have experience working with game mechanics, mobile apps, LARPing, intentional communities, etc?

Tatiana Maya

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Apr 6, 2011, 9:19:50 PM4/6/11
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Hi  Devin,

Thanks for the info and definitions. You did answer my questions. I'll have a look more in detail to the gamification wiki to understand more and see what ideas come up. 
I have no experience in any of what you're asking...not sure if many people do.
I found the book 'gamestorming', the also have a website http://www.gogamestorm.com/

Do you think it is in line with what you are talking about??

Cheers

Tati

Venessa Miemis

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Apr 7, 2011, 1:46:12 PM4/7/11
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> Does anyone here have experience working with game mechanics, mobile apps,
> LARPing, intentional communities, etc?

hey devin,

i've been in touch with this guy matt who has been living/building an
intentional community, and just emailed me with this pdf the other day
of what they're up to in their community, Tamera.

http://www.verlag-meiga.org/sites/verlag-meiga.org/files/Tamera.pdf

i'll invite him to this thread and see if he's interested in sharing
some of his experience with you/the group.

- venessa

Matt Richards

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Apr 8, 2011, 5:59:31 AM4/8/11
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Hi,

I'm the Matt from Tamera Venessa mentions above. If I understand
correctly, you are looking to start an intentional community which
entices members & incentivizes them via gamification, with the
intention of developing a system to replace the existing economic
system, correct? This is an interesting research project you are
embarking on!

The real difficulty with IC's is typically not the recruitment,
permaculture, finance or anything else relating to the manipulated
world. The real difficulties lie in learning how to live together - ie
the social aspect. 90% of all intentional communities fail (they start
out just fine, but eventually fail due to conflict) because of this.
This is the research issue that Tamera has focused on for over 3
decades. There is a 6 week seminar which starts on May 2nd which
addresses these issues directly for those who are interested:

http://www.tamera.org/index.php?id=770

Happy to answer any questions you might have

Best,

Matt

BenB

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Apr 8, 2011, 11:39:15 AM4/8/11
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Hi Matt, thanks for jumping in...it's an important distinction you make about the nature of difficulties in scaling change beyond the personal/household level. I've had deep personal experience in this realm, often bittersweet, over ~8 years of following/living intentional community around western N.Am.  Many similar issues arise in open/social/civil work groups, but permit a lot more space with less commitment than cooperative living. Some great insight, process and facilitation has come out of the communities 'pressure cooker' though, as it sounds like you/Tamera are harvesting.

This is actually a part of the direction I want to go with a new project, to share the direct experiential knowledge of emerging and established sustainable community with a much wider audience while simultaneously opening new resource support networks for those very communities which are otherwise often quite drastically marginalized from economic and social flows/currency. In essence, providing a platform for 'story-casting' which enables collective 'evaluation' (attention mapping) and subsequent feedback/support channels via any chosen collaboration/crowdsource (including financial) online tools.

Sorry Devin for piping up presumptuously about the direction you were going, I guess I am a few more steps back from literal 'gamification'...I'm looking maybe from a philosophical/meta view of systems-as-game where we shift values and votes/voices to effectively 'reward' progressive accomplishment within existing social constructs via web2/3 tools and network effect. Find the preferable future where it's already happening, and focus constructive energy there. I believe we can do that with socially curated multimedia linked to deeper engagement routes. And within such a platform there's still plenty of room for various spontaneous/sponsored 'challenges' and other explicit incentivizing, to access, elaborate and enrich the collective wisdom-base, a self-evident new paradigm.

Tatiana Maya

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Apr 10, 2011, 8:26:08 PM4/10/11
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Well, I think this 'going backwards a bit' is a necessary step. I completely agree with the social interaction issues, I haven't been part of an intentional community, but I can see this issue in many other communities of interest...it is the human reconnection, our ability to talk and listen to each other, our ability to ask hard questions and not feel attacked, our ability to live in the edge of what we know and what we don't know so that we can create permanently and not judge everything others do...I feel that there is a lot of stuff that our societies need to undo: Undo the rigid education, undo the economics of untrust, undo the politics of keep-it-in-the-comfort-zone. 

Economy and community are becoming sort of synonymous to me. Can we use a game to take a  geographically local community from separateness, distrust, and scarcity, to abundance, union and trust?? Can we design a game that would take an actual existing, and most likely socially deteriorated, geographical community from fear of everything to love of anything?? What would be the immediate deliverable to do this?? What can we do now towards this? How do we design a(n) [economic] game to re establish social connections of love, patience, peace...


Cheers

Tatiana

Devin Balkind

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Apr 12, 2011, 2:30:51 PM4/12/11
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Hi Matt.  So happy Venessa linked us up.

Let me contextualize my intention:

We have 200 acres of undeveloped land about 2.5 hours out of New York and a coworking space in NYC.  We also have relationships with a bunch of farms near our land and many coworking spaces in NY.  It's within that context I want to 'develop' the land and exchange it's 'production' using game mechanics.  I don't think we're creating an intentional community as much as we're creating a network of physical spaces that our community of participants can use within a framework of a 'game.'  This should release a lot of the pressure that builds within an insular community, but will certainly lead to a host of other problems.  That being said - there will certainly be a resident community that emerges on the land.

I'll look more through your materials and hope you stick around this group.  We're going to have lots of questions/need lots of advice.

Devin Balkind

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Apr 12, 2011, 2:42:33 PM4/12/11
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Ben, I 100% agree.  There's a tremendous amount of unharvested, unorganized information within ecovillages, permaculturefarms, intentional communities, etc.  Aggregating, organizing and synthesizing this info would make it many times easier for people to create these types of community, which constitute an alternative platform upon which we can operate gifting networks.

I think one of the easiest starting points is to get these spaces to all do simple things like join a database, publish an RSS feed and maintain a wiki that documents their various systems.  We're working with the coworking community to build out a model for this type of system and then hope to do similar work with eco/perma/intentional community groups.  Would definitely like to talk more about this - especially the connection between the coworking and ecovillage-type communities as I believe that a good game will make it possible for an increasingly large network of these folks to exchange value without using traditional currencies.

Devin Balkind

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Apr 12, 2011, 4:23:36 PM4/12/11
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Tatiana, games can definitely establish a certain level of trust between players, they can lead people into and through situations, they can reward different activities, etc.

The mainstream economy is a boring game with a massive reward catalog that includes everything you can buy with a dollar.  The gift economy is a fun game without a reward catalog.  I think building an infrastructure that can supply rewards for people who play in the gift economy is essential.  This is why projects like openfarmtech.org is so important.

My immediate deliverable is getting our land generating value so I can provide rewards to gamers.   The first people we need to reach out to are farmers.  Food is a great reward.

Fabio Barone

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Apr 12, 2011, 4:26:51 PM4/12/11
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My immediate deliverable is getting our land generating value so I can provide rewards to gamers.   The first people we need to reach out to are farmers.  Food is a great reward.

Well, you got me now. You want farmers to reward gamers in an online space for some action? What's the farmer's reward? What do gamers provide to the 'real' economy? (I understand your general gaming outline).

Devin Balkind

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Apr 14, 2011, 2:04:39 PM4/14/11
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I'd like people to participate in a game space that includes (at a minimum) farms and coworking spaces, where the game generates new currency at a rate determined by land production and players earn new currency by performing certain challenges and can circulate currency amongst themselves and with the other side world through normal market interactions.  Everyone is a player or participant (the 'farmer' badge could be earned, I guess) but some people will naturally want to farm/create value in rural spaces while others will want to create that value in urban spaces.

Ideally participants could operate entirely within the game's economy while still inhabiting urban and rural spaces.  Their interactions with the mainstream economy would be completely voluntary and unrestricted, but since they're involved in the game, they can access 'earth-backed' currency, which enable them to acquire products and services inaccessible with traditional currencies (game production can only be acquired with game currency) and have an advantageous  exchange rate with traditional currencies.

Did that sufficiently address your question?  Please send me more!

Matt Richards

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Apr 15, 2011, 6:09:15 AM4/15/11
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Great. I'll be here =) I'm happy to help in whichever way I can.
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