Thumbnail image for gamification-logo-2012.jpgWhat can popular games like the Draw Something app teach us about collaboration in the enterprise?

Hundreds of people gathered at the third annual Gamification Summit to learn about the fledgling industry and maybe to grab some Draw Something magic for their own companies.

Draw Something became a huge hit for a company called OMGPOP, in part because of its collaborative gameplay, game designer Dan Porter said at the conference. Porter is now vice president of mobile at Zynga after the company bought OMGPOP in March for nearly US$ 200 million. Porter gave a raucous and curse-laden presentation at GSummit, titled "Come for the Game, Stay for the Community."

Collaboration Can Save Us All

Completing tasks at work isn't always seen as its own reward, but if a collaborative project is well defined, and everyone working on it agrees on the purpose, the task feels less like work. This collaborative ideal is what made Draw Something an instant hit. So much so, that things like accomplishments weren't even built into Draw Something. 

"We focused on the shared experience, and the bonds people built while playing have been the best part," he said. 

"There's really no winners or losers in drawing and guessing."

Draw Something lets people take turns on their own time schedule.

GSummit Day 1 Highlights

Porter mentioned more than once that he didn't know much about games. His career arc supports this somewhat, but Daniel Brusilovsky, a young man who founded Teens in Tech Labs surely must be an avid gamer.

Not so much, the young CEO said during his GSummit presentation. Brusilovsky said he spoke to his friends about the games they played because when he was 15, he was founding a company and didn't really have time to play games. 

The point is, it's important to focus on what motivates people to play games, and less on actually making a game out of any old task. Companies need to use the kinds of motivational tactics found in popular games to encourage desired behaviors in the enterprise. Leaderboards and friendly competition (think badges) can be useful.

When it comes to collaboration, however, it's just as important for enterprise teams to agree on common goals. When that happens, rewards and achievements can be employed to even greater effect.