In the past couple of years, we've seen the boom of the social network and how it's affected us.  Facebook proved to be incredibly profitable for Mark Zuckerberg.  As we enter into this New Year, many of us are asking, 'What's next?'

The buzz of what's to come is a game level on top of the already created social level.  Seth Priebatsch, Chief Ninja at SCVNGR, argues that games influence our behavior. Take an evening happy hour, for example.  You go to the bar at a pre-designated time, and you 'win' discounted prices on your drinks and appetizers just by showing up.  Another example is rewards.  I frequently buy tacos for my office.  Part of the reason I go to the same taco place is to get my reward at the end of ten purchases.  After spending around $500 on tacos, my reward came: one, measly taco.  I may have won the game, but how anti-climatic.  One of the main bugs that needs to be fixed on this gaming level is that the reward has to match the expectation. 

Foursquare has a reward system in place with badges for checking in at various locations, but I don't really care about having more or less badges than other people so this doesn't motivate me.  What if the gaming level tapped into what actually interested us as individuals?  Sally Hogshead has written the book Fascinate, which explores the triggers that motivate and captivate each one of us.  To do this, she has a short psych test on her web site.  My primary trigger is vice.  I enjoy breaking the rules and making my own.  So if there is a gaming system that recognizes this, I would probably buy into that game, and thus it could really influence my behavior.  A combination of rewards that meet expectations, tailored to what triggers a specific individual -- sounds like a lethal combination.

Seth Priebatsch will be speaking at the SXSW Interactive Conference here in Austin, Texas.  I covered that in a recent blog post which you can read here in case you missed it.

Curt is the CEO of Journyx, who provides timesheet and project resource management software in Austin, Texas.