"If you're going to build a company, you have to do it like a World of Warcraft guild leader builds guilds," Gordon explained.
The term "gamification" — which my word processor still does not recognize, perhaps for good reason — has been thrown around with exponentially increasing frequency this past year. It's more common in the business community than the games industry (our games are already thoroughly gamified), as corporate entities have the most to gain from its lessons. The takeaway is this: Gamification is the more-literal-than-you'd-think implementation of gaming mechanics in the structuring of ... well, anything that's not a game.
Former EA chief creative officer Bing Gordon recently spoke about the term during a SXSW Interactive panel, explaining some of its more practical uses. Most involve improving company morale or inspiring people to go the extra mile to earn intangible bonuses: things like badges, points and privileges.
However, there's an organizational strategy worth adopting from massively multiplayer online RPGs, Gordon said.
"If you're going to build a company, you have to do it like a World of Warcraft guild leader builds guilds," Gordon explained. "You build a weekly calendar, with check-ins, you come up with a system and process to split up the loot, and hope that they don't try to kill the boss," he joked.
"This is something the civilians don't understand," he added, "is that the most powerful part of gaming isn't the competition, it's cooperation. So you develop a structure where cooperation is rewarding. In MMO parties, it turns out with a party of five, even if it's strangers in what's called a 'pick-up group,' what you come to expect is that each individual is around 20 percent more productive, using overlapping skills."
On the corporate side, Gordon suggests employers "architect their companies in groups of five," explaining that the same benefits of a World of Warcraft group are applicable — overlapping expertise, leading to a 20 percent boost in efficiency and efficacy. Also, the group has a means for instant feedback between one another, and can be instructed and critiqued as a single unit.
Gamer employees are also have other benefits, Gordon added, such as their belief in the potential for constant improvement over multiple sessions.
"I think that every Fortune 500 company should have a gamer in the executive suite," Gordon said. "I think that game design is the new MBA. If you don't have an MBA yet, play World of Warcraft instead. It's only 12 bucks a month instead of $40,000 a year.
"And the people are nicer," he added.