creative technology serious/superpower game(s)

Social Groups, Part 1: Modelling Properties

We believe that game mechanics can be used motivate people to do practically everything, with pleasure. To "make the world a better place" however, we need some more ingredients. To achieve big things we need the resources of groups. This is the first post of a series in which we try to approach concepts of social groups for our means through reflection.


To be able to use groups as an entity in our research we need to be able to "measure" them. Otherwise we can't make any statements about the impact of our applications to these groups. Note that I am assuming in the following that we are talking about a group that is already participating in our application. How to initially reach a group or how to create new groups are different questions.

If something is to be measured, we are talking about measuring it's properties. Of a car, we can measure its speed, its acceleration, its weight or number of seats. What are the properties of groups? The obvious one is the size of a group. This is already interesting for us. Assuming that bigger groups can achieve more (in means of "making the world a better place"), observing a growth of a group influenced by our application would be wishful.

But size isn't the only thing that matters. We need to consider some more abstract properties of groups to make assessments.

For example, we want to know about some kind of level of the motivation [to approach a problem]. Further, there might be a certain potential of the group to succeed solving what is approached.

This potential might depend on other properties, such as the size or the quality of communication in the group, which in turn might be influenced by the saturation of communication facilities, individual communication skills or the local distance between group members.

A level of organization or structure in the group might be relevant.

Maybe a group can profit of resources of another groups if there are mutual members, or at least (in)direct friendships of members of these groups?

Lastly we could consider the collective stage of a group, as introduced in the book "The Tribal Leadership". 


This reflection leaves us with this (incomplete and unstructured) list of properties that social group have and are relevant to our interest. We know (roughly) what we need to measure. It raises the question how can we measure these properties. Further, it helps structuring the game mechanics we want to employ along with the properties they can influence.

What else, apart from properties, could be modelled? Group behaviours? Connection/Interaction between multiple groups? How groups grow? Discuss :)

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Comment by eliens on March 14, 2011 at 10:58pm
group properties can very likely be modeled using standard notions from graph theory, such as cliques, paths, connectedness, possibly with weights, to obtain measures of information exchange and the like, see e.g. wikipedia. Incidentally, looking for more information, I stumbled upon Network-Centric Warfare: Its Origin and Future, introducing notions such as self-synchronisation, network calculus and engagement grids, which, taken with a metaphorical grain of salt, fit well within my conception of creativity as the art of war.
Indeed, rewarding acts that promote the construction of a social grid may may help to realize a networked society which, as I learned today, is essential for innovation(s) ..., leaving the details to the reader.


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