Teams and Competitive play.

Last week there was no post from me. The reason was that I was working on rebuilding my games review site ( Take a look, you may like it!!

Anyway, it got me thinking, as I looked over the games we have reviewed over the years. What do people like playing? Obviously the answer is – All sorts! However, it made me consider the nature of competition in games and especially gamificaiton.

The general rule of thumb is competition between people is bad mojo for gamification. It leads to bad feeling, lack of engagement, people at the bottom of leaderboards feeling less important than those at the top etc.  However, we keep using it – even though we know all of this! Often this is because we know that it will cater to at least some of the people (for instance I am using Captain Up leaderboards etc for gamifying this site).  I know it won’t appeal to everyone, but with luck it will amuse some.

Looking at games it struck me that the most popular game types for multipayer games revolve around teams.  I took a quick and very un-scientific look at the Call of Duty: Black Ops II leaderboards to see how many player there were in each game type.

  • Free for All:762,142
  • Team Death Match: 1,352,471
  • Search & Destroy:  814,524
  • Domination: 1,081,915
  • Hardpoint:  921,629
  • Capture the Flag:  709,244
  • Demolition: 834,491
  • Kill Confirmed 1,095,840
  • Headquaters: 761,761

Just for those that don’t know, Free for All is a mode where everyone is trying to shoot everyone else.  All of the rest of the games are team based. Even more interestingly is that other than Team Death Match and Kill Confirmed, all of the team based modes have distinct objectives. Capture this, defend that, destroy the other. They all require you to play your part as a team, otherwise it becomes really very hard to win.

If you look at the stats for Steam ( one of the most consistently played games is Team Fortress 2. Now, this is partly because it is free, but also because it is a great team based game. Everyone has a role to play and without team work it is really hard to win.

In my mind, competition is not a terrible thing. I think pitting all of your staff against each other is a terrible thing for anything other than a short period of time. So, if you have an online course that no one is doing, it may help to get them to play against each other for points. That said, you should just make the course better.  But, you get what I mean – competition is ok for very short periods of time if it is going to be free for all.

However, put people in teams and have the teams play against each other and you may have a better chance of people engaging. But why?

For me and this is just my opinion after over a decade of multiplayer gaming, team based play is more fun. Look at sports and look how many of the most popular ones are team based. If you are part of a team you feel that you not only have people to support you, but that they need you to support them. You don’t want to let them down and you expect that they will feel the same.

Take another look at my RAMP framework and apply it to a team.

  • Relatedness: Well, you are part of a team – you certainly need social connections and interactions!
  • Autonomy: You have your role to play in a team, for the most part they should trust you to do your role in the best way you can.
  • Mastery: This is the same for anything really, you will increase your skills as the challenges change – just in a team there are people who can help you and you can help them.
  • Purpose: As part of a team you feel that you are part of something bigger than you. You feel that your actions affect not just you, but everyone. You are an important cog in a machine that is working towards greatness.

Thinking competition? Think Teams.

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