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Society - Written by on Friday, August 6, 2010 8:19 - 4 Comments

Thomas Gegenhuber
The Empire strikes a light

In my first blog post, I wrote about different examples of Government 2.0. I also mentioned Manorlabs, the City of Manor’s idea generation and innovation platform. Manorlabs uses game mechanics to keep the people engaged. The CIO of the City of Manor, Dustin Haisler, told me in an interview: “Innovation can actually be fun and citizens can actually have fun helping the government do progressive things.” This statement brings to light two key questions that every community must address:

  1. How do we get the attention from the people for our platform? The noise on the information highway is loud and it makes signal difficult to hear. As Clay Shirky analyses, the 80/20 Rule is also applicable to the web: roughly speaking, 20 % of all blogs account for 80 % of all the traffic. The web is a system where people have the free choice to read anything they want. To find the information that is useful for them, they look what are the preferences of people they trust – friends, family, colleagues or other important persons.
  2. How do we get the users continuously engaged?

The answer for the first question is a combination of a deliberate social media strategy and advertising. For answering the second one I feel that more and more platforms use game mechanics to tackle the problem. There are numerous examples who use badges, reputation points or prediction markets: Manorlabs, Microsoft’s Townhall, Vencorps, the location based service Foursquare and many more.

Empire Avenue

I recently stumbled onto another site that uses game mechanics: Empire Avenue (EA). This site determines the social influence of a person in a web. The EA nuance is a virtual stock exchange market. People can buy and sell share of users, earn badges and dividends from their virtual investments. The price of your shares is mostly determined by your activity on twitter, facebook, flickr and blogs. Therefore you have to connect your social media accounts with EA. The higher the social media activity, the higher the prices of your shares will rise.

I tried the site out and it sparked my interest. My share price is now 12.864 eaves (the name of the virtual money), which indicates according to the EA blog, that I am an average social media user. Adriel Hampton, who dedicated a blog to game mechanics writes, that people use the site for “networking, for fun, to make money or a combination of those.” This statement makes sense and I will use Malone’s Genome Model to qualify it.

First, it is fun. I love the being active on the site. I am curious if my share prices rise. Which leads to the next motivation: Glory. I want to achieve a high share price, to gain the reputation as an “exceptional social media user.” And of course, money is a motivation. On the one hand, users can earn virtual money and buy upgrades. On the other hand, users and businesses can monetize their network (for example by better targeted advertising or connecting to key influencers).

Should EA gain a critical mass of users (If Obama joins EA they probably have a breakthrough), it will add another feature to the advertising market. Businesses and persons can “buy and sell advertisements with the cost of those advertisements likely based on a players influence.” As we look for the preferences of other people to determine our buying decisions, this seems like a powerful tool.


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Adriel Hampton
Aug 7, 2010 0:35

Thomas, thanks for the mention, and hope you continue to enjoy EA. Game mechanics has a lot of potential in Gov 2.0, I think, but there are very difficult balance issues when you blend more professional social media with gaming environments. I hope to write in more length about this soon.

Gov 2.0 Radio Hot Links – August 7, 2010 « Adriel Hampton: Wired to Share
Aug 7, 2010 1:11

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Gov 2.0 Radio Hot Links – August 7, 2010 | Gov 2.0 Radio
Aug 7, 2010 1:12

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Aug 19, 2010 19:32

[...] Thomas Gegenhuber: The Empire strikes a light [...]

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