Participation drives value
At the NYC Games conference this week, Matt Bellows moderated a panel on monetization of online games. The panel was focused on micro-transactions and the movement of players from free to play users to paying customers. This specific shift in behavior is important, but Matt pointed out that there are no free riders in the community because the non-paying players are making the network larger and are actively supporting the value proposition for those who pay just by playing.
[caption id=”attachment_263" align=”aligncenter” width=”300" caption=”a friend of mine captured the quote here”]
I jotted it down in my notebook and followed with an open question: “What does that say about how we should think about community?”
The same day Chris Dickson posted to NextNY and the NY Tech Meet-up communities about open office space for start-ups with the goal of “creating a vibrant, thriving start-up hub” with a “great motivating community everyone would benefit from.” His post is available on Hacker News here.
The free-rider problem here is the reverse of social games — everyone who gets a desk is a paying customer, but how many will contribute and actually play the game? How do the members of the community motivate participation and create structure that encourages everyone to engage in each project within the community?
In my experience, community spaces succeed or fail based on the membership and the belief of each individual that they are stronger for contributing to the efforts of others. When you decide to take a desk in a space like this, it is important to recognize the opportunity to create a virtuous cycle. The more you invest in the value proposition offered by the community by giving your time, thoughts and creative efforts to the others working around you and the more you are open to constructive criticism from your peers, the stronger the community that supports you will be and the further you and your ideas will go.
This type of thinking applies to the broader tech community in the city and is part of why I love that Chris is doing this and will certainly be recommending his space to entrepreneurs I meet with in the city.