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The game layer on top of the world | Seth Priebatsch | TEDxBoston

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    My name's Seth Priebatsch.
    I'm the chief ninja of SCVNGR.
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    I'm a proud Princeton dropout.
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    Also proud to have relocated
    here to Boston,
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    where I actually grew up.
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    (Applause) Yeah, Boston.
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    Easy wins, I should just name
    the counties that we've got around here.
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    I'm also fairly determined
    to try and build
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    a game layer on top of the world.
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    This is sort of a new concept
    and it's really important,
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    because while the last decade
    was the decade of social,
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    the decade where the framework in which
    we connect with other people was built,
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    this next decade will be the decade
    where the game framework is built,
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    where the motivations we use
    to actually influence behavior
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    and the framework
    in which that is constructed,
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    is decided upon,
    and that's really important.
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    I say I want to build a game layer
    on top of the world,
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    but that's not quite true,
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    because it's already under construction;
    it's already happening.
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    And it looks like this right now.
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    It looks like the Web did
    back in 1997, right?
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    It's not very good. It's cluttered.
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    It's filled with lots of different things
    that, in short, aren't that fun.
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    There are credit card schemes
    and airline mile programs,
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    coupon cards and all these loyalty schemes
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    that actually do use game dynamics
    and are building the game layer --
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    they just suck.
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    They're not very well-designed.
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    (Laughter)
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    So that's unfortunate.
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    But luckily, as my favorite action
    hero, Bob the Builder, says,
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    "We can do better.
    We can build this better."
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    And the tools, the resources
    that we use to build a game layer,
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    are game dynamics themselves.
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    And so the crux of this presentation
    is going to go through
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    four really important game dynamics,
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    really interesting things,
    that, if you use consciously,
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    you can use to influence behavior,
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    both for good, for bad, for in-between.
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    Hopefully for good.
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    But this is the important stage
    in which that framework will get built,
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    and so we want to all be thinking
    about it consciously now.
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    Before we jump into that,
    there's a question of:
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    Why is this important?
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    I'm making this claim
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    that there's a game layer
    on top of the world,
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    and it's very important
    that we build it properly.
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    The reason it's so important
    is that, in the last decade,
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    what we've seen has been
    building the social layer,
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    has been this framework for connections,
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    and construction on that layer
    is over, it's finished.
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    There's still a lot to explore,
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    still a lot of people
    trying to figure out social
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    and how we leverage this
    and how we use this,
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    but the framework itself is done,
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    and it's called Facebook.
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    And that's OK, right? A lot of people
    are very happy with Facebook.
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    I like it quite a lot.
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    They've created this thing
    called the Open Graph,
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    and they own all of our connections.
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    They own half a billion people.
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    So when you want to build
    on the social layer,
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    the framework has been decided;
    it is the Open Graph API.
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    And if you're happy with that, fantastic.
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    If you're not, too bad.
    There's nothing you can do.
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    And that's a real thing.
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    I mean, we want to build frameworks
    in a way that makes it acceptable
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    and makes it productive down the road.
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    So, the social layer
    is all about these connections.
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    The game layer is all about influence.
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    It's not about adding
    a social fabric to the web
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    and connecting you to other people
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    everywhere you are and everywhere you go,
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    it's actually about using
    dynamics, using forces,
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    to influence the behavior
    of where you are, what you do there,
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    how you do it.
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    That's really, really powerful.
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    And it's going to be more important
    than the social layer,
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    and affect our lives more deeply
    and perhaps more invisibly.
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    So it's incredibly critical
    that at this moment,
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    while it's just getting constructed,
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    while the frameworks
    like Facebook or Open Graph
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    are being created
    for the game-layer equivalent,
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    that we think about it very consciously,
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    and that we do it in a way
    that is open, available,
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    and can be leveraged for good.
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    So that's what I want to talk
    about for game dynamics,
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    because construction has just begun,
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    and the more consciously
    we can think about this,
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    the better we'll be able to use it
    for anything we want.
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    So like I said, the way you go
    through and build on the game layer
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    is not with glass and steel and cement.
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    And the resources we use are not
    this two-dimensional swath of land
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    that we have.
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    The resources are mindshare,
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    and the tools, the raw materials,
    are these game dynamics.
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    With that, a couple
    game dynamics to talk about.
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    Back at SCVNGR, we like to joke
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    that with seven game dynamics,
    you can get anyone to do anything.
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    Today, I'm going to show you four,
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    because I hope to have a competitive
    advantage at the end of this, still.
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    (Laughter)
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    So the first one,
    it's a very simple game dynamic.
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    It's called the appointment dynamic.
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    It's a dynamic in which to succeed,
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    players have to do something
    at a predefined time,
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    generally at a predefined place.
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    And these dynamics
    are a little scary sometimes,
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    because you think, "Other people
    can be using forces
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    that will manipulate how I interact:
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    what I do, where I do it, when I do it."
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    This sort of "loss of free will"
    that occurs in games
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    can be frightening.
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    So with each dynamic,
    I'm going to give three examples:
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    one that shows how it's already
    being used in the real world,
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    so you can rationalize it a bit;
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    one that shows it in what we consider
    a conventional game --
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    I think everything is a game,
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    but this is more what you'd think
    of as a game played on a board
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    or on a computer screen;
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    and one of how it can be used for good,
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    so you can see that these forces
    can be very powerful.
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    So the first one, the most famous
    appointment dynamic in the world,
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    is something called, "Happy Hour."
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    So I had just recently
    dropped out of Princeton
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    and actually ended up
    for the first time in a bar,
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    and I saw these happy hour things
    all over the place.
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    And this is simply an appointment dynamic:
    come here at a certain time,
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    get your drinks half off.
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    To win, all you have to do is show up
    at the right place at the right time.
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    This game dynamic is so powerful,
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    it doesn't just influence our behavior;
    it's influenced our entire culture.
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    That's a really scary thought,
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    that one game dynamic
    can change things so powerfully.
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    It also exists in more
    conventional game forms.
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    I'm sure you've all heard
    of Farmville by now.
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    If you haven't, I recommend playing it.
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    You won't do anything else
    for the rest of your day.
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    Farmville has more active
    users than Twitter.
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    It's incredibly powerful,
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    and it has this dynamic
    where you have to return at a certain time
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    to water your fake crops, or they wilt.
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    And this is so powerful
    that when they tweak their stats,
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    when they say your crops wilt
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    after eight hours, or after six hours,
    or after 24 hours,
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    it changes the life cycle
    of some 70 million people during the day.
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    They will return, like clockwork,
    at different times.
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    So if they wanted the world to end,
    if they wanted productivity to stop,
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    they could make it a 30-minute cycle,
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    and no one could do anything else, right?
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    (Laughter)
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    That's a little scary.
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    But this could also be used for good.
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    This local company called Vitality
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    has created a product to help people
    take their medicine on time.
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    That's an appointment.
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    It's something that people
    don't do very well.
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    They have these GlowCaps
    which flash and email you
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    and do cool things to remind you
    to take your medicine.
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    This isn't a game yet,
    but really should be.
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    You should get points for doing it on time
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    and lose points for not doing it on time.
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    They should recognize they've built
    an appointment dynamic,
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    and leverage the games.
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    Then you can really achieve good
    in some interesting ways.
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    We're going to jump onto the next one.
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    Influence and status.
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    This is one of the most famous
    game dynamics, used all over the place.
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    It's used in your wallets, right now.
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    We all want that credit card
    on the far left, because it's black.
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    And you see someone at CVS or --
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    not CVS -- like, Christian Dior --
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    (Laughter)
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    I don't know. I don't have a black
    card; I've got a debit card.
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    (Laughter)
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    So they whip it out and you see
    that black card, and:
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    "I want that because it means
    they're cooler than I am,
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    and I need that."
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    And this is used in games as well.
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    "Modern Warfare," one of the most
    successful selling games of all time.
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    I'm only a level four, but I desperately
    want to be a level 10,
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    because they've got that cool red badge,
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    and that means that I am somehow
    better than everyone else.
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    And that's very powerful to me.
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    Status is really good motivator.
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    It's also used in more
    conventional settings,
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    and can be used more consciously there.
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    School -- and remember,
    I made it through one year,
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    so I think I'm qualified
    to talk on school --
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    is a game; it's just not a terribly
    well-designed game.
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    There are levels. There are C.
    There are B. There's A.
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    There are statuses. I mean,
    what is valedictorian, but a status?
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    If we called valedictorian
    a "White Knight Paladin level 20,"
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    I think people would probably
    work a lot harder.
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    (Laughter)
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    (Applause)
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    So school is a game,
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    and there has been lots of experimentation
    on how we do this properly.
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    But let's use it consciously.
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    Why have games you can lose?
    Why go from an A to an F or a B to a C?
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    That sucks. Why not level-up?
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    At Princeton, they've actually
    experimented with this,
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    with quizzes where
    you gain experience points,
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    and you level up from B to an A.
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    And it's very powerful.
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    It can be used in interesting ways.
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    The third one I'll talk about
    is the progression dynamic,
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    where you have to make progress,
    move through different steps
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    in a very granular fashion.
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    This is used all over the place,
    including LinkedIn,
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    where I am an unwhole individual.
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    I am only 85 percent complete on LinkedIn,
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    and that bothers me.
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    And this is so deep-seated in our psyche
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    that when we're presented
    with a progress bar
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    and presented with easy,
    granular steps to take
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    to try and complete
    that progress bar, we will do it.
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    We will find a way to move that blue line
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    all the way to the right edge
    of the screen.
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    This is used in conventional
    games as well.
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    I mean, this is a Paladin level 10,
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    and that's a Paladin level 20.
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    And if you were going to fight
    Orcs on the fields of Mordor
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    against the Ra's Al Ghul,
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    you'd probably want to be
    the bigger one, right?
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    I would.
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    And so people work very hard to level-up.
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    "World of Warcraft" is one
    of the most successful games of all time.
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    The average player spends some six,
    six-and-a-half hours a day on it,
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    their most dedicated players --
    it's like a full-time job, it's insane.
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    And they have these systems
    where you can level-up.
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    And that's a very powerful thing.
    Progression is powerful.
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    It can also be used
    in very compelling ways for good.
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    One of the things we work on at SCVNGR is:
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    How do you use games to drive traffic
    and business to local businesses,
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    to something that is very key
    to the economy?
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    And here, we have a game that people play.
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    They go places,
    do challenges, earn points.
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    And we've introduced
    a progression dynamic into it,
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    where, by going to the same place
    over and over, doing challenges,
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    engaging with the business,
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    you move a green bar from the left edge
    of the screen to the right,
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    and unlock rewards.
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    This is powerful enough that we can see
    it hooks people into these dynamics,
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    pulls them back to the same
    local businesses,
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    creates loyalty, creates engagement,
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    and is able to drive meaningful revenue
    and fun and engagement to businesses.
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    These progression dynamics are powerful
    and can be used in the real world.
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    The final one I want to talk about --
    and it's a great one to end on --
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    is this concept of communal discovery,
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    a dynamic in which everyone
    has to work together to achieve something.
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    Communal discovery is powerful
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    because it leverages
    the network that is society
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    to solve problems.
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    This is used in some famous
    consumer web stories like Digg,
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    which I'm sure you've all heard of.
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    Digg is a communal dynamic
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    to try to find and source the best news,
    the most interesting stories.
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    And they made this into a game, initially.
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    They had a leader board where,
    if you recommended the best stories,
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    you would get points.
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    And that really motivated people
    to find the best stories.
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    But it became so powerful,
    there was actually a cabal,
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    a group of people, the top seven
    on the leader board,
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    who would work together to make sure
    they maintained that position,
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    recommending people's stories.
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    The game became
    more powerful than the goal.
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    They ended up shutting down the leader
    board because, while it was effective,
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    it was so powerful that it stopped
    sourcing the best stories,
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    and started having people work
    to maintain leadership.
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    So we have to use this one carefully.
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    It's also used in things
    like McDonald's Monopoly,
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    where the game is not
    the Monopoly you're playing,
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    but the cottage industries
    that form to try and find Boardwalk.
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    There, they're just looking
    for a sticker that says "Boardwalk,"
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    but it can also be used
    to find real things.
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    This is the DARPA balloon challenge,
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    where they hid a couple balloons
    all across the United States and said,
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    "Use networks. Try and find
    these balloons fastest,
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    and the winner will get $40,000."
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    The winner was a group out of MIT,
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    where they created sort
    of a pyramid scheme, a network,
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    where the first person to recommend
    the location of a balloon got $2,000,
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    and anyone else to push
    that recommendation up also got a cut.
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    And in 12 hours, they were able
    to find all these balloons,
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    all across the country.
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    Really powerful dynamic.
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    And so, I've got about 20 seconds left,
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    so if I'm going to leave
    you with anything,
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    last decade was the decade of social.
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    This next decade is the decade of games.
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    We use game dynamics to build on it.
    We build with mindshare.
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    We can influence behavior.
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    It's very powerful. It's very exciting.
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    Let's all build it together,
    let's do it well and have fun playing.
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    (Applause)
Title:
The game layer on top of the world | Seth Priebatsch | TEDxBoston
Description:

By now, we're used to letting Facebook and Twitter capture our social lives on the web -- building a "social layer" on top of the real world. At TEDxBoston, Seth Priebatsch looks at the next layer in progress: the "game layer," a pervasive net of behavior-steering game dynamics that will reshape education and commerce.

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Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TEDxTalks
Duration:
12:14

English subtitles

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