Game on

09Sep10

Guess what my favorite work-out is?

I did it every day for a month to win the prize of a free following month. My accomplishment was slighted, though, by the fact that I did not manage to become the FourSquare Mayor of the workout studio. Hana H., whoever you are, I tip my hat.

FourSquare — the company that helps you “find new ways to unlock your city” by sharing locations with friends and winning points, badges, and “Mayorships” of locations they go to more than anyone else in 2 months time – is a phenomenon. It seemed as if it would be threatened by the advent of Facebook Places and SCVNGR’s use of camera phones and text messages to win themed scavenger hunts, but they’ve held strong.

Guessing games, competitions to create the best content, Mayorships, points, badges, and other awards are all the rage. People are even getting married over FourSquare mayorship competitions. People say they love the friendly competition. Meanwhile the New York Times wondered last week, will this trend ever break into the mainstream?

Points and games are not the issue here, though. It’s a matter of Communication Design – building and enhancing relationships the spaces where possibility arises and invisible connections already exist.

I was telling family lore the other night when my audience interrupted me: “You know, you could have asked me to guess where you guys went on that vacation.” He was right. Having one storyteller is the old model. Make it experiential for everyone, and the impact and potential grow. Sharing is caring.

People may not want to share their location with the internet, they may not want to enter contests for the exchange price of sharing their email address. Find a way to interact, bring often-silent voices into the conversation, and your story becomes multi-dimensional. Games can draw out these voices and expand your potential.

Have you ever fallen asleep envisioning Tetris or bricklayer? What would you give to crawl into that mind-space between dream and wake to spread your idea, move a project forward, or get a date invitation you’ve been hoping for?

Combining this gaming dream-state with fun competition and collaboration tools is an effective way to create a community, a movement, a collective that pushes and pulls to create something new. It draws out new voices and shines light on new ideas. In that new arena, communication design reigns.

These are the basic concepts of the commons, of Wikinomics – that collaboration is the best model. See GOOD magazine to realize the power of asking the crowd what they think and getting content and stories, fans, readers, and more.

Start now: What’s your favorite game?

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