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Sharing is Caring – What we can learn from WoW

Today I stumbled upon an interesting piece about collaboration and how sharing really is caring – also online. In August 2009, Deloitte’s Centre for Edge came out with an interesting analysis of how World of Warcraft has developed an amazing support network for their players, remarkably improving the performance of players across the database, but also showing new structures to increase performance by everyone involved.

In “The Collaboration Curve: Exponential performance improvement in World of Warcraft” by Douglas Thomas and Jagan Nemani shows how the increasing availability of support, information and analytical tools online provided by other users has helped improve the average players performance in this MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game).

 The interest in the game and the ability to challenge new streams of players on a continuous basis is something that makes WoW so remarkable as a game, and so fascinating as a product. This is one of the most popular MMOGs, it keeps growing at an exponential pace, and is the envy of any other online community with its over 11.5million users!

And according to Nielsen’s investigation  “The State of the Video Gamer”  a look at video game usage in the US, a large chunk of those players are actually women!  If we are to believe these statistics, about 40% of the unique players that World of Warcraft sports, are women, a remarkable percentage for a game with such a “masculine” feel to it. Yet another thing pointing to the fact that  women do not blindly follow the “pink and fluffy” stuff when looking for entertainment online. But what is it that is drawing all these players in?

Basically, its not just the game. The interaction on sites related to WoW is remarkable. Blizzard Entertainment, the parent company who set up WoW, runs more than 300 forums aimed at its WoW users while there are tens of thousands of guild forums, thousands of independent and specialty forums, as well as a number of other high profile sites attracting millions of visitors on a daily basis to the realms of WoW. Does anyone else see the link here?

WoW and its surrounding network of sites are basically nothing else than a massive social network (although, not as focussed on the human race as Facebook and others are..) strongly linked to the gaming experience. Its a platform where the players can share experiences, tell their war stories, celebrate their achievements, and explore and analyse strategies to in-game challenges.  But mostly, tapping into the need of social interaction of people, whether that is online of offline, and hence appealing as much to women as to men.

But ignoring the typical topic of the rise of social networks and the increasing interest of women in casual games over the last few years, WoW shows us something else as well. It shows us how any institution or society benefits from knowledge sharing and teaming up in order to get something done or achieve something big, without focussing blindly on the gender issue.

As soon as companies have gotten over their brief fling with Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms when it comes to revamping their marketing, it might be time to actually sit down and look at what these mediums can do to revamp their company structure as well.. Sharing is caring, and that might not only apply for users of social networks and WoW gamers, it might teach us something on the grander scale as well.

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