Article and Video Interview by Brooke Allen
I’ve often wondered what can be done to make it fun to learn new skills and hunt for a job. Surely if FarmVille can make farming fun, and Call of Duty can make war fun, isn’t it possible for the people who produce those games to apply what they know to making the process of finding and qualifying for a job just a little bit more effective and enjoyable?
As it turns out, the answer is: ABSOLUTELY.
Gabe explained that the job search is usually a long process that has many moving parts including the concept of career mastery. He says this is the kind of thing that is well suited to modern multi-player social games.
In order to take someone through the “player’s journey,” game designers break complex processes into their component pieces and by providing guidance and rewards along the way. As missions are completed and skills are “leveled-up,” the player can look back later to see that they have accomplished something amazing – and had fun along the way.
After hearing his fascinating advice on how you can make your own job search more fun for you and for those who are helping you, I asked Gabe if this idea has ever been commercialized.
After all, Zynga has figured out how to get 1% of the world’s population to play Farmville, growing crops that nobody can eat. You join for free through Facebook and begin building your farm. Then you invite friends to start neighboring farms, and you interact daily, by visiting each other and complete specialized tasks in order to receive rewards and “farm coins” which you can use to buy gifts for your friends.
Gabe has famously highlighted Farmville’s social aspect by calling it “poke with cows.”
Wouldn’t it be great if Zynga created a “JobsVille” as “poke with resumes” – a place where you and your friends can help each other level-up your real-world connections and skills, land good jobs, and put real food on the table? What’s in it for Zynga? After all, if Zynga goes public, they will have shareholders to feed. As Gabe suggested in the interview, if people help you with editing a resume, making an introduction, or practicing an interview, it is entirely appropriate you reward them, perhaps with a real (or virtual) gifts bought through the game platform.
Better yet, why not help a charity in the name of the person who helped you?
Zynga has already thought of this; they handle the distribution of charitable contributions from their users through their non-profit Zynga.org.
Gabe told me he has not heard of a single person who has made a massively multi-player on-line social game out of the job hunt, but that it is ripe for development.
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