Developing a community game

Social media game

I have run the social media game many times now, and it always turns out differently and is always rewarding, and interesting.

Basically, it is learning and FUN!

Here is a PDF of the cards I used, which I put together about a year ago for the 2gether08 conference. It’s based on the original by David Wilcox and friends, which has subsequently been developed in a different direction into the Social by Social game.

I’ve been involved in building and managing online communities for a while now, and it looks like I’m going to be doing even more in the near future (more on that later). To help refine my own thinking, and as an aid in planning online community work, I’m putting together a version of the game specific to to community building.

The game will work as normal, with teams asked to produce ideas around projects or problems which an online community could help solve. Then, in this version, the teams use three sets of cards to develop a strategy for what that community needs to work effectively. The sets of cards are technology, roles and activity.

Here are the cards I have thought of, under each category. Have I missed anything obvious? Anything you would change?

1. Technology

Hopefully these are self explanatory:

  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Profiles
  • Status updates
  • Wikis
  • RSS feeds in
  • RSS feeds out
  • Embedable media
  • Polls and surveys
  • Email alerts
  • Respond by email
  • Email newsletters
  • Groups
  • Event listings
  • Document sharing
  • Social bookmarking
  • Chat
  • Third Party Applications
  • Public and private spaces

2. Roles

Note – these are my definitions for the purpose of this game. You might not necessarily agree with how I describe certain roles – let me know in the comments if you would call them something different!

  • Community manager – overall responsibility for success of the community
  • Community cultivator – helps to develop conversations and use of the community
  • Digital curator – finds good content on the community and elsewhere, and brings it to members’ attention
  • Social reporter – creates content around the subject of the community, whether text, images, video or audio
  • Community evangelist – someone to promote the community and encourage new members to sign up
  • Moderator – ensuring content is appropriate for the community, works with members to ensure conversation stays on track
  • Technology steward – helps manage the tech side of the community, provides help and support on how to use the features available, plans for future development
  • Domain expert – someone with a deep knowledge of the subject matter of the community
  • Facilitator – someone with a wide range of skills who can support the community by providing a little of all the other roles

3. Activities

These are a touch verbose right now, and will need to be a bit more succinct to fit on the cards!

  • Plan community activity in advance
  • Identify existing communities (online and offline)
  • Identify enthusiastic potential members
  • Identify relevant websites to promote community
  • Promote community through social networking sites
  • Run hotseats
  • Seed content and discussions
  • Run online conferences
  • Develop user guidelines and policies
  • Communicate with members and potential members using backchannels

It would be awesome to get feedback on these ideas before I set @davebriggswife to work with the laminator!

9 thoughts on “Developing a community game”

  1. Thanks Phil. I’m standing on the shoulders of giants, really.

    I’ll be making all the materials freely downloadable once it is done, so you’ll be able to run it too!

  2. A few thoughts:


    might want to think about adding an aggregation service a la FriendFeed?


    something to help the Tech Steward? ‘Adding/Tailoring tech to better match community needs’?

    Looks great, would love to play it through 🙂

  3. Dave,

    sounds intriguing. Would like to see the game in action. A few points for you to consider:

    1. You should probably include a ‘People Finder’ facility that helps members find and connect with relevant peers and experts.

    2. Maybe include a facility for members to invite friends or colleagues to join the community.

    3. A ‘shoutbox’ feature for general comments or requests for help.

    I think you may need to explains somewhere in the game that 1 role does not equal 1 person, i.e. a person can undertake multiple roles (and in my experience this is more likely to be the case). I think it would give the wrong impression to assume that a successful community needs lots of people undertaking lots of roles.

    Some other potential activities could be:
    1. Create a ‘Community Charter’
    2. Agree codes of conduct for the community (or maybe this is what you meant by having guidelines and policies)
    3. Housekeeping (organise content – remove/archive unwanted content)
    4. Issue a regular newsletter
    5. Close the community (either because it has achieved its objectives, or because it has not generated any interest.

    Will be interested to see how the game develops.


  4. Hi Dave – looks like a great evolution! I do think the roles issue is crucial, so excellent to put on cards.
    On cards, drawing on socialbysocial, how about network mapping, digital health checks, dashboard?
    Aside from the cards, how will you go about the sequence? For the socialbysocial game we’ve been giving groups sets of participation and technology cards with budget points, and then funding cards which they have to use to match costs. Skills and roles would then follow.
    Further thought: ask groups to explicity consider a stance: how far they will co-design and evolve with community members, how centralised/distributed?
    Looking forward to reports! I’ll let everyone know how SocialbySocial plays tomorrow at Reboot.

  5. So far, so good! I’m pretty impressed by the above and will probably point a few people at it. Look forward to the report on how it plays.

  6. Thanks to all for your suggestions, I will definitely incorporate them into the cards, the ‘rules’ or the narrative of the game. More soon!

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