Gaming and business collaboration share many elements. Both link geographically-dispersed people in social networks. The business trend towards real-time, spontaneous collaboration has its roots in consumer instant messaging. It’s easier to integrate tools into our work styles that we already use in our lifestyles. IM, which is currently becoming an IT-sanctioned enterprise tool, is taking off in workplaces because we are comfortable text chatting with family and friends.
Microsoft, which is focused on both business and consumer collaboration, is enhancing social networks by bringing Windows Live Messenger to Xbox 360 game consoles. This announcement flings open the door so that Xbox users can interact with PC-based IM users, further linking the PC and TV platforms. Also, Windows Live Messenger users will see at a glance whether their friends have gamertags and therefore whether they’re available for gaming.
Windows Live Messenger, the largest IM community, includes over 260 million active accounts. Xbox users can already engage in text messaging plus voice and video chat within the Xbox community. Later this year, published reports suggest that Microsoft will offer voice interaction between Xbox and PC-based Live Messenger users. This parallels the Microsoft Business Division’s moves (see my March 7 post) to enable text, voice and video chat from Microsoft Office and other applications.
Ultimately, the relationships gamers develop may carry over into the workplace. Teenagers who bond because of common interests and form social networks using text, voice and video chat may nurture these relationships for years. Today’s consumer collaboration is tomorrow’s business collaboration.