Philip Rosedale Adds Gaming System to New Real Work-for-Virtual Cash Startup (Bet Aspects Would Work in SL Too)
Second Life co-founder Philip Rosedale recently announced he added MMO-style leveling and achievements to Coffee & Power, his new startup which exchanges virtual cash for real world tasks. (No, I'm not going to call this "gamification", my hate for that term has surpassed its usefulness.) As you can see at left, Philip's a Level 8 on his C&P system profile.
The way these rankings are created is pretty interesting. As he writes:
"[W]e first assigned different weights to a large number of interesting data that we are able to capture from C&P: your total [Coffee Dollar] income, number of people worked with or for, number of jobs you’ve done, how often your actual jobs were marked as favorites by other people, number of different people worked with, and number of people having favorited you as an individual (btw this favoriting is anonymous, so not as subject to peer pressure and gaming as other systems)... we end up with a single large number that generally goes up and up over time, and is affected not only by your directly completed work, but also by the perceived quality and reach of that work in the eyes of others."
From that number comes your level, and like an MMO, it gets increasingly difficult to level up. Philip makes a very interesting point about this, arguing that MMO leveling systems do a good job capturing how we perceive people in the real world:
For example, if we asked you to categorize famous businesspeople into buckets according to how successful and/or wealthy they are, you would probably intuitively simplify with the same sort of ranking… you’d have ‘normal’ people who you figure make close to the average amount as everyone else, then those who are significantly out ahead – ‘millionaires’, and then finally the crazy outliers like Bill Gates or Larry Page – ‘billionaires’. These natural ‘levels’ are also separated from each other by geometric factors – each one is a large multiple of the one before... So we think this could be a pretty smart idea – to try collapse a lot of different information into a single ‘level’, making work more like a video game.
Read it all here. Given past performance, this gaming structure should help increase engagement rates on the Coffee & Power system. With some tweaks, I think a lot of the features in Philip's system could be integrated into a Second Life game system -- something many Lindens are pushing for, even beyond those they already plan to add to the new user experience. For instance, the ability to anonymously favorite another user, and have that represented as an achievement badge on their profile, would be a great way to avoid and discourage griefing. The anonymous aspect is very important -- as I write in my book, when Linden Lab introduced a rating system back in 2003, it was not anonymous. (And neither was the system gaming and in-world drama that soon followed.) And while Second Life as a whole is not a work exchange like Coffee & Power, I think it'd be enormously valuable to have a similar way for SL content creators and merchants to level up too.