In gamification we can have two settings regarding teamwork. The experience may be oriented to a specific group of people, for example a team of a company’s employees, or to a group formed by random people who want to play that experience with a common goal but without the faintest idea who the other people might be, for example what happens when people collaborate in an online game.
In either case, communication is essential for a successful experience, but each one requires a different approach. In the first case a hierarchy is already established and we can assume that guidelines already exist, so there is not much space for chaos to arise. In the second case the relationship between people is a bit more anarchic, and even if that group of people naturally tend to informally create a hierarchy, some experiences might not have the luxury of time and since it is not guaranteed that someone on that specific group has some kindof leadership traits, it could mean that the process of creation of order and purpose in that group could be in danger.
Communication is a nuclear part of most endeavors that require teamwork. As such, considerable time should be spent envisioning the way communication will take part in the gamification experience. Be it system-player, player-player or player-system.
System-Player and System-Player communication
An important part of communication is the relationship between the experience and the player. One of the first things the player must learn is the rules of the experience, closely followed by an explanation of the way the experience is supposed to be played. These are the crucial first steps of the experience, but later on, another kind of communication is needed, feedback on the player experience. Metrics on the way the player is accomplishing the experience are important for the player to assess his development at said experience. This metrics will even work as intrinsic reward as players see themselves beating their previous limits.
Satisfaction of the player regarding the experience is also important. An appraisal on the part of the player is essential to “keep the game going”, and that means a good user-system communication. This way the players can help to shape the experience to their needs, criticism (hopefully constructive) and requests are a good way to keep the the gamifiers informed of what the gamifees think about the environment.
Another important thing is player-to-player communication.
There is not a team that works well without the means to be able to communicate successfully. With a fluid communication system, the synergy between players is obviously maximized and the results will be also maximized.
Regarding the first case, of a company’s employees, it requires a structured communication system where the players have access to the needed information to fill their roles, while of course each team-manager will require all information regarding that department.
In a unstructured environment, all the players, despite their role, should have all the information available, at least that which is relevant to them. Players should be able to communicate openly with one another, but in this case, in which an informal leadership structure might not yet been implemented, it would be wise to implement some kind of dispute resolution mechanism in an effort to try to prevent problems that may arise in the mean time.