Seth Priebatsch has been in the press a bunch lately for his ambitious Zuckerbergian vision of "building the game layer on top of the world." He points out that with the release of the Facebook Open Graph API, the social layer has been sufficiently constructed. You can now use your Facebook profile to check into various other services, you can "like" things from any site using Facebook, and developers can leverage the availability of relevant information from Facebook user profiles. SCVNGR does not yet have an API, but when it does, what will be some of the key features? Here's when I'll consider the Game Layer to be finished: establishment of a universal points system.
My friend Brent has been talking for years about an arbitrary system of "life points", earned for reaching important milestones (graduating from college, getting married) and for performing acts of human greatness (lifeguard saving a swimmer, writing a book, homebrewing a beer that your friends genuinely like and complement based on merit not just for the benefit of you ego). Right now, there are countless unrelated points systems attached to real-life actions: spending money on your credit card, getting good grades in school, running across a goal line with a football in your hands.
One powerful feature that the game layer does not yet have is a universal points system
. Jesse Schell has made a compelling case for the ups and downs of such a system at the DICE 2010 summit. Check out his talk on pervasive gaming
. He brings up this question: how do all of these points systems relate? What if I could redeem my Kroger coupons for fantasy football points? When that is possible, the Game Layer will be complete.
This was prompted by the e-mail ad (below) that I received from Best Buy. The "Earn Points, Get Certificates" slogan seemed so similar to SCVNGR's "Go Places, Do Challenges, Earn Points" motto. While SCVNGR openly claims to be a gaming platform, Best Buy does not. They sell HDTV's. But maybe it's really the same thing.