FOREWORD TO THE 4TH EDITION (C4)
Through countless hours of experimentation organizing our online gaming Community in tactically competitive environments, our founding Constitution was birthed in early 2004. Since the first edition, our Community has grown to reach individuals, communities, professionals, organizations, and humanitarian efforts far beyond our founding mission.
Since the 2010 publishing of the third edition, we have experienced a transformative journey that's empowered our Community with a deeper understanding of our prosocial capabilities in, around, and outside of the online video games we play. We hope this edition will prove so empowering to the reader that its call to action is unavoidable.
In 2011, soldiers and scholars supporting the U.S. Army during the height of Global War on Terror discovered the Division IGR and were struck by the similarities with respect to the development of individuals and communities. In turn, our Community discovered the published work of these Soldier-scholars in Leadership Based Training and Education (LEAD). In an improbable story of mutual discovery, our Community has grown into a social and intellectual force by taking the work in LEAD to the next level.
Uniquely, we recognized that ranks in purposeful communities like the U.S. military can be more like belts in martial arts than political power. Our ranks are not about power over others. Instead, they recognize a hierarchy of responsibility that has to be earned through commitment to others, participation, continual practice, and lifelong learning.
The design of our Community functions to mitigate the power plays and power asymmetries prevalent in the majority of online gaming communities. Being a Member of the Division IGR is about competition with oneself. Akin to the belts of martial arts, earning rank in our Community is about always striving to overcome the limitations of who we were, or who we momentarily may be. It is about the direct and reflective development of mind and body of individuals in the context of a purposeful Community.
Expansion of our Community design in this edition was commissioned to integrate our evolved worldview and to ensure our Community's ability to participate in the frontier development of disruptive technology, scientific research, leader development education, and durable social impact through video game design and organized online communities. In addition to our experiences operating successfully in and around the online games we play, this edition reflects our Community's experiences:
UNITED WE STAND
We, of the Division IGR, are more than networked gamertags who spend our time consuming online video game technology. We are an organized Community of online gamers who pursue our Primary Purpose in, around, and outside of the online video games we play. We invite you to join us in championing the underdeveloped potential of our world's online gaming communities and the transformative power they possess.
Prior to last week's annual reunion, I hadn't played SOCOM 2 in years, let alone at a ten man LAN. The most people I've ever played SOCOM with in the same room was ages ago when Mr. Yellow, Orange, Green, and myself used to hook up our TV's and PS2's at each others homes for clan wars.
Our goal this year was to connect our ten man LAN to XLINK and play SOCOM online with old friends. Unfortunately, the LAN to XLINK connect eluded us. Hats off to Mr. Cobalt, Dande, Mystic, and Grey, who troubleshot their hearts out. In the end, it was time to play.
Once we drew teams and fired up our PS2's to battle, nothing else mattered. From the moment the first lobby greened up to the last, we transported back to that place of tactical adrenaline, nail biting gun fights, sarcastic humor, clutch victories, high-fives, and endless gameplay. It was amazing to me how much fun SOCOM 2 still is all these years later.
Reliving the game that birthed us 12 years ago and playing through all of those timeless maps and strategies in person with clan members goes down as my greatest gaming experience of all-time. The flood of nostalgia and forgotten memories was something like magic. I think we averaged 5 hours of sleep between our marathon gaming sessions.
During the reunion we also held Dan's graduation ceremony. He chose the color, Dandelion, or "Mr. Dande," representative of "Dan the Lion." Fitting. We also surprised Mr. Mystic with a promotion to Lt. and welcomed him to Commissioned rank. He never saw it coming.
Next year, we're planning a week-long mega surprise for the community. Details shall be kept secret until all invitees arrive at our designated bullpen and travel together to the reveal. As soon as we arrive at our LAN destination, I suspect the fellas are going to go bananas. Look for our social media profiles to explode. Oh, and this time, we'll definitely be connected to XLINK.
Authored by special guest and former SOF Studios Operating Partner, Dr. Gary Riccio
My use of “brothers” includes both men and women. I will let the audience interpret for themselves what the meaning of “arms” is.
SOF Studios and the Division IGR
What is the relationship between these two organizations, their respective brands, and their respective presence on social media? It seems that this is a question on the minds of many people not associated with SOF Studios or the Division IGR, whether fans or competitors. The simple answer is that Justin Bastian (AKA, Mr. Blue) is founder and co-owner of SOF Studios while he also is a long-time leader in the Division IGR. Formally, that is the essential association. Informally, the Division IGR is a major proponent of SOF Studios in its fan base.
Many members of the Division IGR have an emotional bond with the mission of SOF Studios to bring “a new level of expertise, authenticity, and realism to the video game industry… to showcase the benefits of merging real life combat experience with creative game development,” and “to re-establish the link between gaming companies and their communities by listening and hearing their concerns as we move through the development process” (see About Us at www.sofstudios.com). Many donated to the Kickstarter campaign for SOF Studios’ first game, H-Hour: World's Elite™, and some even donated significant amounts of time to developing the infrastructure of SOF Studios. The fact that the Division IGR is the only gamer community based on a Constitution and Bill of Rights leads to a natural affinity with any studio that seeks a deeper personal and community experience through “in extremis” game play.
As an independent organization, SOF Studios does not speak for the Division IGR nor does the Division IGR speak for SOF Studios. Justin can speak for both, and that can be a source of confusion. This can create further confusion when other members of the Division IGR legitimately express their interest and freedom to speak about SOF Studios or any other game studio. This has all the dangers of sibling relationships, dangers that nobody would want to avoid by keeping siblings from speaking about each, even when such a privileged position and the caring from which it derives reveals a lack of agreement. In my experience as a mediator and integrator (and person from a large family), this applies as much to sibling organizations as it does to a nuclear family unit.
Insofar as SOF Studios is about authenticity and realism with respect to the “Profession of Arms,” it is useful to draw from my experience with sibling support organizations in this profession. There are many support services in the military. I will focus on a central triad of organizations that respectively: (a) develop and acquire everything from food, clothing and shelter to vehicles, weapons and electronics; (b) develop and deliver training and education, identify needs and develop doctrine; and (c) provide scientific and technical expertise ranging from psychology and medicine to physics and engineering. These sibling organizations play important roles and often stray from each other because of the intensity of focus that is required to do their jobs.
To an outsider or a relatively unsophisticated insider, it may seem that these organizations are working at cross purposes and even that people from the different organizations don’t like or respect one another. To be sure, one can find evidence of that just as in the most unified organizations. There also can be opportunity costs from the lack of time and money to coordinate on key issues when urgency of solutions is at a premium. Yet these organizations are brothers in arms that, implicitly or explicitly, reflect and honor the incomparable camaraderie of those they support. This is what I see in the relationship between SOF Studios and the Division IGR, and I believe it is more than an analogy.
H-Hour and Prosocial Gameplay
“H-Hour: World's Elite™ is a tactical, team-based, military shooter… a core multiplayer experience… [with] comprehensive community-building/clan management tools… [because] only by cooperating with your team can you hope to achieve victory… [and] allow you to play with players at your skill level but teach and encourage you how to play tactically.” (see Game Overview at www.sofstudios.com)
H-Hour is being designed and developed by David Sears, a game designer whose work we respect and, in my opinion, a deep thinker among game designers, together with Tom, a co-founder and co-owner of SOF Studios, one of the most accomplished doers from the U.S. military and someone with whom I have had the privilege to work in support of Soldiers and the Global War on Terror. I am confident that the world of video games has not seen the like of what they will produce, and it is my hope that it will raise the level of expectations of all gamers.
H-Hour sets the table, so to speak, just as combat developers outfit and equip Soldiers for particular situations and as tacticians plan a mission that Soldiers can execute adaptively, preferably with confidence, initiative and accountability. For me, H-Hour corresponds to one element of the triad in support of the military, the acquisitions sector, the combat developers.
H-Hour doesn't require or expect prosocial gameplay any more than it requires or expects antisocial gameplay. It merely requires collective gameplay. I will leave it to the imagination and eventually the experience of the audience to assess whether prosocial or antisocial gameplay will lead to more success and a more enjoyable experience.
Prosocial gameplay is my personal interest. That means I am pursuing ways to define and measure what prosocial gameplay is and even to promote it through any game or studio that is up to the task. That is the bias I admit enthusiastically. I have reason to believe from my work and that of other scientists that prosocial gameplay can have some of the life changing positive psychological effects that prosocial interactions have in real life. The body of evidence about this is growing rapidly now that people are finally considering positive effects of games including first-person shooter games (see http://j.mp/1H2QAvt). This work corresponds to a second element of the triad, the S&T (science and technology) sector that supports capabilities development.
While I am promoting prosocial behavior and translating its intangible outcomes into something concrete and verifiable, I am not the one who creates prosocial behavior. I cannot take credit for that with gamers any more than I can take credit for that in the military. Enter my most valued colleagues who have an impact on the world I honor and support to whatever extent I can. These are trainers and instructors such as those in the military. And, for the gamer community, they are people like the leaders in the Division IGR. Most notably, they include my dear friend Justin Bastian from whom I have had the privilege to learn and the honor to support.
The Division IGR thus corresponds to a third element of the triad in support of the military, the training and doctrine sector. The rankings in the Division IGR reflect the acumen and accomplishments of people who observe, guide, model, and nurture gamers to engage in prosocial behavior and experience social media in a way that many people do not understand is possible. Just like Drill Sergeants in Basic Training, they engage with others during actions of tactical team-based military shooters (e.g., gameplay), they engage with them in preparation for action and in after-action reviews (e.g., in game rooms), and they engage them in social situations that have nothing to do with the team-based military actions.
My personal vision is for collaboration with leaders in the Division IGR to promote and develop community play (i.e., gamer community organization and engagement) that complements the gameplay of multiplayer games. My hope is that, together, we ultimately can reach a level of community virtuosity among gamers on par with the virtuosity in the transcendent games designed for “in extremis” fun and the servant leadership exemplified by my colleagues in the military.
How do all three elements of the triad come together in a gaming universe? It is simple really. The outcomes of social gameplay will be as significant and far-reaching as the richness of scenarios and settings in the game. While most video games don’t require prosocial gameplay, if designed for “in extremis” social experiences, they would have the potential to produce the most influential prosocial gameplay as well as the associated community play that can change lives. By implication, game design also can foster the most troubling antisocial gameplay. In essence, such transcendent games are a multiplier of meaning and, existentially, meaning is in the gameplay and community engagement. Thus, I believe the association between inspired game studios and communities like the Division IGR is a moral imperative. It isn't necessary for nominal or monetary success of each initiative separately but it is seductive to imagine…
Gary Riccio, Ph.D.
Senior NASA R&D Leader, Fortune 500 CEO peer coach
Co-Founder, Socent Studios
Gary Riccio, Ph.D. and our founder, Mr. Blue, first met in November 2011 during the early startup stages of SOF Studios. Over the next 18 months, Gary worked closely with Blue, pro bono, to help him accelerate SOF Studios.
We would like to take a moment to acknowledge those in The Division IGR and our Brothers in Arms who have and continue to support the SOCOM gaming community wherever and whenever possible.
THE DIVISION IGR
Justin Bastian (AKA, Mr. Blue), is co-founder of both The Division IGR and SOF Studios. In 2011 and after playing the SOCOM 4 private beta (writing on the wall), Mr. Blue dedicated himself to his vision of creating a game development studio to produce a SOCOM spiritual successor to save the SOCOM gaming community. Raising venture capital, producing both a record setting Kickstarter campaign and the fastest voted-up STEAM Greenlight campaign at the time, Mr. Blue lead daily startup production, recruited organized gaming communities (Brothers in Arms below), special operations veterans such as Tom, and the original Creative Director of the SOCOM games franchise David Sears to his mission at SOF Studios.
Dan Moenkhaus (AKA, Mr.Dande) was an original SOF Studios startup team member. Dan would invest hundreds of man-hours, pro bono, to develop SOF Studios website from concept, assist Mr. Blue in the development of venture due diligence, develop the H-Hour gaming community, directed a record setting 90-day Kickstarter campaign, and managed all campaign logistics.
Brady Rozens (AKA, Mr. Cobalt) was SOF Studios IT Consultant and Systems Engineer. Mr. Cobalt would invest hundreds of man-hours, pro bono, creating SOF Studios Perforce game development server, managing all SOF Studios front-end and back-end servers, facilitating critical troubleshooting support, and spearheading the SOF Studios international marketing initiative noted below. Saving H-Hour from total oblivion, Brady also once recovered the game prototype from accidental Dev. deletion.
Matthew Mondero (AKA, Mr. Silver) is a "Sergeant Major" Kickstarter backer and life-long SOCOM community member. Mr. Silver would invest hundreds of man-hours, pro bono, into H-Hour community support, developing H-Hour-based relations with other gaming communities, and marketing H-Hour.
Troy Mills (AKA, Mr. Mystic) is a Kickstarter backer and life-long SOCOM community member. Mr. Mystic's submission to SOF Studios map naming contest was selected by David Sears and "SISMIS" became the title of H-Hour's first map. Mr. Mystic is also an "H-Hour Alpha Team" playtester and would invest hundred of hours, pro bono, into H-Hour community support.
Daniel Christensen (AKA, Mr. Grey) is an "H-Hour Alpha Team" playtester and life-long SOCOM community member. Mr. Grey would invest hundreds of man-hours, pro bono, into H-Hour community support and forum moderation.
OUR BROTHERS IN ARMS
TheRealSOCOM.com: Founded in 2008, TheRealSOCOM.com was created by a passionate SOCOMer committed to keeping the community connected and communicating. Five years forward and our friends at TRS have developed their .com into the world's largest SOCOM fansite. From epic articles, to decade-old forum personalities, to "Friday Night Fights," to leading a SOCOM 2 remake initiative straight to the top of the Playstation community polls, TRS is a pioneer from the SOCOM community.
SUKMYTURBAN: Publishing his first video in 2009, SUKMYTURBAN quickly emerged as the SOCOM community's go-to YouTube personality. With a fist full of passion, SUKMYTURBAN set out to confront the slow demise of the SOCOM series, to challenge publishers and developers, and to echo the plight of the SOCOM community. SUKMYTURBAN would go on to generate over 3.2 million views and counting, more than thirteen thousand subscribers, and countless debates throughout the community. SUKMYTURBAN is a pioneer from the SOCOM community.
Urgent Fury: Founded in 2003, Urgent Fury was created by two SOCOMers and 10 clans to honor the competitive credo, "Win with Honor, Lose with Dignity." Over a decade later, our friends at UrgentFury have developed a long-standing, scenario based tournament community responsible for producing "Commander Claymore Fury" and years of battle memories. UrgentFury is a pioneer from the SOCOM community.
Sea Snipers: Established in October 2002, Sea Snipers was originally founded as a SOCOM clan. Shortly thereafter, the Sea Snipers seized an opportunity to create tactical tools for SOCOMers. There wasn't a competitive SOCOM clan alive who had not seen a SeaSnipers generated map. Today, our friends at Sea Snipers are one of the games industry's most professional clans. Having authored and illustrated 9 official strategy guides with Brady Games and Piggyback Interactive, the Sea Snipers are a pioneer from the SOCOM community.
HappyThumbsGaming: Founded in 2011, HTG was created by two SOCOMers who joined forces to make error free, HD walk through videos that would help other players unlock the full experience of their games. Over one thousand videos later and the HTG community is booming. Our friends at HappyThumbsGaming are pioneers from the SOCOM community.
FraggedNation: Founded in 2002, FraggedNation was created by a SOCOMer looking to socialize and compete with like-minded players. Twelve years forward and our friends at FraggedNation are industry leaders who facilitate a community where the gamers voice is heard. No matter who they are, where the play, or what they want to accomplish. Today, FraggedNation is one of the largest tournament communities in gaming and a pioneer from the SOCOM community.
A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
Supported by Mr. Blue and led by Division IGR members, Mr. Cobalt and Mr. Emerald, the below links reflect the Division IGR's international marketing outcomes for SOF Studios Kickstarter campaign, "H-Hour: World's Elite."
POST KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN COVERAGE PRODUCED
30-DAY KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN COVERAGE PRODUCED
Authored by Justin Bastian
Recently, a tweet by author and visionary game designer, Dr. Jane McGonigal caught my eye, "Why don't more people in the game industry stand up to defend our work?", supported by a link to Daniel Greenberg's article, "The Video Game Industry Needs to Defend Herself Now."
After conversing with colleagues on this topic I learned that for most, their absence from the spotlight is not due to lack of compassion or moxie, but because they are concerned with meeting existing deadlines and sustaining employment. Publishers tend to frown on employees engaging in controversial issues, especially of recent magnitude. Through this process, I also learned that the issues are largely unexplored.
The negative lens we find ourselves under today is not a problem, rather an opportunity to educate a nation on the overwhelmingly positive potential of video games. The current criticism of our industry has created for us an international platform. An opportunity to shine our light onto the world.
My colleagues and I share a relatively simple position. The focus should be on the way people play video games, not a particular games classification. Individuals can play any video game, violent or nonviolent, in a way that is prosocial or antisocial. Video game design and community influence how individuals play games. Within this truth is our response to the national criticism.
Video games can reflect and foster shared values. Shared values are the focus of our societal ills, especially the problem of tragic violence. This connection is reflected by the powerful testimony of Mark Mattioli, father of slain 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim, before a gun violence task force in Newton Connecticut.
“Our school is not a building–it’s the teachers, parents, and students”, and our games are not just pixels, they are the creatives who produce them, the communities that support them, and the users who play them. Successful video games bring people together, yielding a community of family, friends, clans, guilds, teammates, and competitors.
Centered on relationships, bonds, and interpersonal influence, playing video games is about adapting to circumstances and overcoming challenges, both as an individual and with others. This is especially true for tactical shooter games, the primary point of attack on our industry. Ironically, the game type receiving the most scrutiny is also the game type suited to introduce a transformative solution, a solution that we believe can be adopted industry wide and across many genres.
Mr. Mattioli emphasized core values, cultivating character, and civility. The "Three C’s" necessary for creating an environment of accountability, personal growth, and leadership. Integrating the Three C’s into the world of gaming through game design and prosocial technology is precisely what my colleagues and I are working to do.
Based on the experiences and evidence gained from "outcomes-based training and education" and adaptive leadership in the U.S. military and the interpersonal influence and social development potential of gaming community, our assertion is quantifiable.
Our experience integrating the Three C’s into gameplay comes by way of The Division IGR, the online gaming community I co-lead. We have developed and organized prosocial behavior through gameplay for more than a decade. Our evidence of affect includes testimonials of gamers whose lives outside of our community, have been transformed through behavior and social experiences within it. Engineering our collective body of experience and evidence into social enterprise is our next frontier.
Today, the video game industry utilizes five standard type classes to categorize gamers. These are:
This type class is unfortunately limited to recognizing only two dimensions of a gamer–his or her investment of time/money and mastery of gameplay mechanics. Current metrics fail to identify the third and most important dimension of every gamer–their character or “persona."
Emphasizing the Three C’s, we have leveraged our experience and evidence to integrate, among other things, an interactive type class that recognizes, encourages, and fosters this third dimension through gameplay. Behold the “persona virtuoso.”
This is our response to the very important question Dr. McGonigal posed in her TED Talk, Games Can Make a Better World, “what exactly are gamers getting good at?”
My colleagues and I hold high our obligation to those our efforts touch, and are dedicated to creating powerful art integrated with the tools necessary to transform the human development potential of online video games.
Transform the heart and mind of an individual, and you can transform a home. Transform a home, and you can transform a community. Transform a community, and you can achieve almost anything.
This is our message to the video game industry and those who seek to better understand it.
Spectacular. In ten years, you will be able to say that you were in the vanguard of the greatest challenge we've faced as an industry: how to make gaming into a positive social force.
This is a new conversation about gaming. It is about individuals, not stereotypes. It is about the experience economy, not compartmentalized supply and demand. It is about open innovation in which gamers are both empowered and accountable for development of the games they choose to play. It is about the pride of self, extended to a community of impact, not just levels of personal performance. It is about bringing games to life and bringing life to games. We hope you will join us on this journey.