Until my son starting playing Minecraft in earnest, I really had no conception of the concept of the Video Game 'Mod' and how popular and powerful these mods have become in that industry. For the folks like me that have no clue what I'm talking about, here is a brief explanation from Wikipedia:
Mod or modification is a term generally applied to personal computer games (PC games), especially first-person shooters, role-playing games and real-time strategy games. Mods are made by the general public or a developer and can be entirely new games in themselves, but mods are not stand-alone software and require the user to have the original release in order to run. They can include new items, weapons, characters, enemies, models, textures, levels, story lines, music, and game modes. They also usually take place in unique locations. They can be single-player or multiplayer. Mods that add new content to the underlying game are often called partial conversions, while mods that create an entirely new game are called total conversions and mods that fix bugs only are called unofficial patches.
Essentially, the 'Mod' is the method where fans, players, or third-party development companies add features, capability, depth, and other elements to existing game foundations or platforms. For avid gamers, these mods contribute to a better, more personal experience, and help a game to continue to hold player interest after it has been 'beaten', i.e. all existing levels or missions having been completed.
Last week a piece in Wired featured how one company, an enterprise 'Big Data' startup called WibiData, is using the concept of video game mods in the recruiting process. Over time, the folks at WibiData realized that many of their staff were avid fans of the game Portal, and that it was likely that one source of future candidates would be from other Portal players.
So in order to connect with, and hopefully learn more about these prospects, WibiData created their own Portal mod, where players get to learn more about WibiData, see renderings of the offices, and are challenged to solve math puzzles to advance in the mod to a WibiData job application. So far, the results have been really impressive. From the Wired piece:
In the week since WibiData published the levels, they’ve been a huge a hit both for getting quality job candidates and getting people to notice the startup. “Compare this to cost of using a recruiter to place a single candidate, this by far the best investment I’ve made in marketing and recruiting,” says (WibiData's) Bisciglia. Thus far there’s been 30,000 visits to WibiData’s jobs page (which introduces the project), 1,000 downloads of the game modification, and 30 job applications.
You can learn more about the WibiData Mod in their preview video embedded here (Email and RSS subscribers please click through)
I liked this story for a couple of reasons - one, certainly as a stand-alone story of how one company came up with a creative and differentiating recruiting strategy to meet their specific talent challenges. And two, for what stories like this suggest might be the future for enterprise software tools more broadly.
WibiData (and the other folks that design video game Mods), are taking an existing solution that is embraced in their community, adding some specific and important elements and features, (while not breaking the base solution), and unleashing it out into the world for use, comment, and positive results.
Could this be the way that companies and service providers supply and 'mod' software in the enterprise in the future? One big, established company creates the base or foundation, and the rest of the community creates openly downloadable 'mods' to fit their particular interests and needs of their specific communities? And, most importantly, in a way that does not 'break' the system?
As the generation that expects the ability to easily 'mod' anything gains more influence in the workplace, I expect we'll see more of this kind of thing going forward.
A system, process, technology - whatever the case - if it doesn't work for you, just get, (or create) a mod.