The Cs of Playing Together: Competition, Collaboration & Creativity


Gamification implementations are often criticised as taking the mechanics of a good game, but losing the underlying principles of what experience these game elements are designed to deliver in the first place. So for example:

Competition is having a leaderboard. Instead of…

Competition means giving people the feeling of urgency that comes from going after something scarce. The prize, a top spot and the status of winning. It means identifying other players as the people we want to best and by keeping ahead of these others we strive that much harder to be our best.

Collaboration means commenting and chatting. Instead of…

Collaboration means that in order to succeed the efforts of one person would not be sufficient or create the most desirable and successful outcome for the system as a whole.

Creativity means giving someone an avatar. Instead of…

Creativity means finding a way for my unique skills and way of seeing the world creates something, which others will value. Making the act of creation surprising, delightful, sensual.

I put these 3 together, as they are not a case of one or the other. The overlaps between 2 or more of these areas are where some of the most engaging and powerful examples of gamification and games occur. Jane McGonigal, Game Designer, goes further and proposes that true collaboration cannot exist without the act of co-creation.

For even more Cs, in the book ‘Reality is Broken’ she states.  “Collaboration is a special way of working together. It requires three distinct kinds of concerted effort:

  • cooperating (acting purposefully toward a common goal)
  • coordinating (synchronizing efforts and sharing resources)
  • and cocreating (producing a novel outcome together).

This third element, cocreation, is what sets collaboration apart from other collective efforts: it is a fundamentally generative act. Collaboration isn’t just about achieving a goal or joining forces; it’s about creating something together that it would be impossible to create alone.”

A prime example of how people and organisations have used this powerful mix of 3 Cs in non-game contexts are inducement prize contests, which I’ll cover in the up-coming “I” post for this series on the A to Z of Gamification.

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