Online, multiplayer games open the door to a new form of group collaboration that can create value. Take, for example, the Google Image Labeler, originally the brainchild of MacArthur Grant-winner Luis von Ahn. The game pits two players against each other in an image-labeling challenge, as images are displayed on the screen in succession (for example a naval orange, or a pregnant MIA) players enter the name of the image, “naval orange”, and every time both players enter the same word they are both awarded points. Players engage for the entertainment value innate to the game, yet little do they know that they are actually labeling thousands of images in Google’s ever-growing database for free (which means way less work for Google’s summer interns!)

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of an Image Labeler addict. There’s something about the gratification and validation you get when someone agrees with you and you’re rewarded for it. Now imagine Image Labeler played on a large scale, imagine how many images a day Google labels, all through the consensus of thousands of strangers across the globe connected by a simple, little game.

Massive multiplayer games can harness the power of collaboration and competition to create value. Here at Beanstockd, we use large-scale multiplayer competition to reduce a community’s green footprint and inform the community about each individual’s contribution in real time. Right now we are brainstorming ways to take our learnings from Image Labeler and apply them to the Beanstockd game to find a way to further leverage collaborative community effort to create immediate, tangible value. We’re open to your suggestions!