Speaker Spotlight – Seth Priebatsch on the Game Layer


How are individuals in the workforce encouraged and motivated to do good work, to remain productive and engaged, and collectively move a company forward?


Having founded two start-ups by age 18, Seth Priebatsch has accumulated an extensive skill set by a very young age. At 21, he began to expand on what many regard as the age of connections and social networking through the concept of a game layer.

Priebatsch’s game layer brings a new understanding of connectedness to social interactions in product marketing and popular games, such as Farmville, that require participants to progressively become more invested increments at a time. In the game Farmville, users are rewarded for remaining active, watering their crops and tending to their livestock. Social marketing sites, such as Foursquare, reward the most active users by making them mayor, giving higher social status to these heavy users as an enticement for others to catch up and aspire to greater use.

In his TED.com presentation, Priesbatsch discusses the motivations we use to influence the behavior of others — sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. The game layer, he explains, is all about influencing others—to affect lives invisibly through a mind share. Priebatsch’s four dynamics of the game layer determine what you do and how (or how often) you do it. They include:

  • Appointment Dynamic – a dynamic in which to succeed, one must return at a pre-defined time to a predetermined action
  • Influence and Status – the ability of one player to modify the behavior of another’s actions through social pressure
  • Progression Dynamic – a dynamic in which success is granularly displayed and measured through the process of completing itemized tasks
  • Communal Discovery – a dynamic wherein an entire community is rallied to work together to solve a challenge

How can managers incorporate a game layer into leading their teams to perform better, faster and more cost effectively? What are the unforeseen consequences?

Tell us what you think.