There's no doubt that an approaching deadline can make a person more focused and decisive on a given task – there's fundamentally less time play with different options and the pressure forces the task up the person's stack of priorities, leaving less room for other distractions.

At the same time, more and more people are working remotely, and alone on personal projects – gaining personal independence, but shedding the camaraderie of working in a team, losing the opportunity to share problems and successes together.

What if there was a way to leverage both of these?

Games are extremely effective tools to co-ordinate people around a common goal. My first job was as a designer at LEGO 🧱 and they truly believe that play is the most important thing that there is. It's how we discover new things, generate and trial new solutions, and it brings people together.

It's also true that the best way to unite people is against a common enemy – human tribal mechanisms kick in and bring the 'tribe' together, encouraging them to help each other to succeed.

So in this experiment, I want to try a team-based coworking battle, uniting people into competing teams.

After all... why can't work be a game? 🍄🦖

Hypothesis

By matching strangers into 2 competing teams with a deadline looming in front of them, my hypothesis is that they will they bond together and help each other achieve their goals.

Let's find out...

Design

Creating a battle

Players enter a lobby, similar to Call of Duty's holding screen – they can see their team members and the enemy team before the game kicks off.

During and after the game, player's can see how the scores of each team played out in a Tekken/Streetfighter style progress bar, showing the scores of both teams pitted directly against each other.

Prizes issued only to the winning team, making players concentrate their energy towards a clear 'win' state. At the end of the game, the winners are celebrated, fuelling the competition of future iterations of the game.

Uniting the team

Players work on their own tasks... but are scored as a team. This means that players need to help their team-mates to secure a victory. Going it alone will mean losing the game. The team that performs best across all players will be the winning side, so each player is incentivised to make sure no one is left behind.

All players in a team get access to a virtual HQ, where they can chat and group video call in a single view. This is where they all meet each other, can ask for help and share successes. In future iterations, I might play with structured interactions to introduce players to one another, celebrate a success etc.

Stopping the cheats

To stop cheats, I've created a rudimentary proof-of-work system:

The team, not the player wins. To encourage collaboration, not a single player trying to game it for their own success – it would require majority co-ordination to cheat.

Players are strangers and at least majority per team unknown to each other. This makes pre-coordination of a strategy difficult.

When user submits a task that they've completed, the task gets anonymised and then another player votes on both whether it's actually been completed, and if it was as difficult as the submitting player said.

1st build

To test this, I've built a rudimentary team-forming app. Players can:

💥 Join a multiplayer remote coworking battle 🥊

⏰ Work on their own tasks against the clock

🏆 The team that gets most done unlocks prizes

Let's see how it does...

1st build experiment run

Currently waiting for a full free day of my time, but will recruit the first set of players via IndieHackers and maker friends.

[ Watch this space 🏃‍♂️ ]