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Amazon Gets Into MMO-Powered Crowdsourcing

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www.questville.comCall it World of Worldcraft. Amazon’s Questville, set for a late 2008 release, is a spinoff of the company’s Askville, a user-driven crowdsourcing question-and-answer service on topics ranging from everything from cars to electronics to relationships to science.

With Askville, users who provide helpful answers are given virtual gold as they rise in status (called “levels”) — two metrics familiar to anyone who’s ever played massively multiplayer online role-playing games like World of Warcraft. Questville will take this to its logical conclusion, offering adventures and Quest Coins to helpful Askville users. With a game like WoW, you become more powerful by killing monsters and completing fantastic tasks; with Questville, you’ll get virtual rewards for providing helpful real-world information.

Though it may seem strange that Amazon is adding role-playing game elements to its services, it’s really the most prominent example of an idea that’s been bubbling for years, put forward by people like venture capitalist/Internet guru Joi Ito: Harness all that time, ability and creativity that users are investing in online fantasy worlds and leverage it for real-world, practical uses. Indeed, if Questville is successful, it could prompt other Internet companies to add MMO-style features to their own systems.

Hat tip to Alice Taylor of the essential game blog Wonderland, who notes: “We humans are such reward-oriented critters, aren’t we!” Yes, and big Internet companies are beginning to learn what game developers have known for decades.

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12 Responses to “Amazon Gets Into MMO-Powered Crowdsourcing”

  1. I think the major problem here is that someone (the writer) made the comparision to EQ and WOW – a bunch of middle-aged guys pretending they are elves. Questville – horrid name. Sounds more like it will turn into a DIY type of network meets with a shiny web 2.0 skin on it.

  2. I think this is brilliant. As a former MMO Player, most of what occurs in an MMO is a grind-fest that’s more work than it is pleasure. Why not capitalize on the horde of people willing to grate themselves into cheese over a mesh of menial online tasks and turn it into a viable, mostly-free information source?

  3. This is a really old idea which has been re-packaged. Remember green stamps? How about airline miles? Visa points? Just because you dress it up in game clothes doesn’t mean it is a game and not a loyalty program.

  4. To some extent, sites like Slashdot, Digg, Yelp, Kongregate, Pogo are already applying game mechanics around leveling up, collecting etc. Kongregate is almost as explicit about it as Questville, but then again it is a games site. But Yelp does a great job of surfacing metrics that matter to it and letting these metrics drive the behavior that Yelp wants.

  5. Macaroni Mike

    And who exactly would be interested in paltry “virtual rewards” from the likes of An unlimited supply of lemmings from the third world, no doubt.