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Social Media and Virtual Communities


Course Topics: 4 Social Gaming and Learning

This is a course for the students with a strong interest in new technologies and how they may be used to create new business opportunities, particularly new social networking media.  Topics covered will include social networking and how the business world leverages them, virtual worlds and technologies, skills in designing and implementing social media for business value using sharepoint and iTunes U (hands on projects). 
Can you have fun and learn at the same time?  Is that enhanced by interaction with others?  Why? How?
Can we make business into a social game?  What would it look like?  How would it work?  Why would it work?  What are the risks?
Initial Thoughts:
Topic 4 focuses us on “Making Alternate Reality the New Business Reality.”  Can we really learn through gaming and accomplish normal work tasks through games?  Could work become tasks similar to playing video games?  How important is it in an ARG that players may “grapple with risky potential realities yet remain safe from the real-world”?  What possibilities does this cocoon offer? Is the cocoon burst if we make video games more social by “Playing With Others”?  If we believe that one may try on potential behaviors within ARGs, how do you judge Kotick’s doubt that there are social implications to gratuitously violent video games?  What behaviors and experiences should be taboo for these environments?  Are these games inadvertently creating a “Gamer Disposition” that will have broad-ranging consequences for managing workers?  If so, does Nexon’s strategy make more sense? 
Will they be able to make enough money “[selling] Virtual Gear for Free Online Games”?  Where should these games go next and what may they become in terms of social media?  Games like Metal Gear Solid (“A Producer Tries to Shift Into a New ‘Gear’)  offer long story lines that develop over time but no clear social interaction other than local play.  But, social interaction in simple gaming sequences has become a normal reality now.  Craft computer scientists are learning that they can harness the energy expended in gaming and online contexts to secretly “Pull a Tom Sawyer to Finish Grunt Work.”  At the same time, individuals are learning that they can use gaming to enhance real effects on their body (“Nintendo Hopes Its ‘Wii Fit’ Works Out”) and interactions with others (“Sony Again Delays Its PS3 Virtual Community”).  Can you make shopping into a game too?  (“Gucci-Stalking: - New Sites Make Shopping a Game”) 
Ultimately, what cannot be manipulated into a game format?  What about evolution and the potential futures of mankind?  With the release of ‘Spore’ we have a game that allows a complete socially created universe to emerge and evolve.  (“Will Wright talks ‘Spore,’ ‘Sims,’ science)  As a curious note, the DRM in Spore really pissed off the gamers out there, leading to Spore being the most cracked and stolen video game in history in its first two weeks on sale! (Search online for more information.)  What will be the key applications of gaming notions and techniques to business in the next 5, 10, 20 years?  How will our lives be impacts?  What will be the key opportunities?
1 *HBR “Making Alternate Reality the New Business Reality”
2 *WSJ “Playing with Others”
3 *HBR “The Gamer Disposition”
4 WSJ “Korea’s Nexon Bets on Sales of Virtual Gear for Free Online Games”
5 WSJ “A Producer Tries to Shift Into New Gear”
6 WSJ “Computer Scientists Pull a Tom Sawyer To Finish Grunt Work”
7 WSJ “Nintendo Hopes Its ‘Wii Fit’ Works Out” also “Sony Delays Its PS3 Virtual Community”
8 WSJ “Gucci-Stalking: New Sites Make Shopping a Game”
9 * “Q&A: Will Wright talks ‘Spore,’ ‘Sims,’ science”