Skip to content

Cooperative Design Fundamentals

5 foundational techniques for building cooperative games, apps & services 

You’re probably familiar with competitive, zero-sum game mechanics like points, leaderboards & head-to-head contests.

But did you know there’s an entirely different way to play that’s motivated by collaborating with partners – not crushing opponents?

In this short, high-impact course you’ll learn the foundations of cooperative, positive-sum game design – and come away with 5 actionable techniques you can use to build cooperation into your customer experiences.

Create experiences where customers win together

When most people think of games, they think of competition, winning and losing. But that’s not the only way to engage people. When we work together toward a common goal, we all benefit. This simple truth is powering many of today’s hit businesses. Crowdfunding in Kickstarter, reviews on Amazon, rentals in AirBnB, and Q&A on Stack Overflow – all powered by systems that harness people’s innate desire to help each other for mutual benefit.

I’m Amy Jo Kim, author of Game Thinking – a handbook for designing long-term engagement in product experiences. My work on influential games like The Sims, Ultima Online and Rock Band taught me that cooperative systems can be even more powerful than competition for driving long-term engagement.

But cooperative game mechanics are often unfamiliar to people who’ve been saturated with leaderboards and ranking systems.  That’s why I put together this short, accessible course on the basics of cooperative design. You’ll come away from this course with five actionable tips for designing positive-sum experiences:

  1. setup your customers to compete against the system – instead of each other
  2. build shared outcomes and resources into your product experience – like the best cooperative game designers do
  3. offer synergistic roles that keep your customers engaged – and leverage their differences
  4. use cooperative social gestures – such as Share and Like – to promote group bonding
  5. introduce group and community statistics to bring people together around something bigger than themselves/  

You’ll learn by watching short easy-to-follow videos and . You’ll also get a downloadable 25-page full-color workbook to reinforce what you’ve learned, and help you apply cooperative design

principles to your own project.

Check out all the details about this self-paced video course below. If it’s for you, join us and start putting  cooperative design work for you.

What the Course Includes

  • Short, actionable video lessons guide you through the content
  • Downloadable PDF handbook contains complete scripts for all lessons
  • Step-by-step action template helps you apply Cooperative Design to your project
  • Case Studies of familiar products show you how these concepts work in practice 
  • Private online community offers Q&A and facilitates your continued learning

You get 8 easy-to-follow learning modules

coop course thumbnail 1

5 Tips for Designing Collaborative Experiences

In this video, I’ll introduce you to cooperative game design – and give you a framework that will help you understand and apply non-zero-sum game design.

1. The Martian

Compete with the System

In the best cooperative games, the challenge comes in the form of a central narrative or group challenge – something that motivates a group of people to band together and beat the system.

Template: Competition vs. Cooperation

2. Shared resources

Leverage shared resources & outcomes

Resource management is a core driver in game design, and in many real-world activities. To get started, identify the collaborative social actions that your environment offers people – and tie them to complementary activities – like building, collecting, and curating.

Template: Shared Resources and Outcomes

3. Synergistic roles 2

Create synergistic roles

The most familiar example of synergistic roles is sports teams: each position has a specific role to play – and they all work together to reach their collective goals. 

Template: Synergistic Roles

4. Social gestures

Offer Cooperative Social Gestures

If you want your players to collaborate and support each other, avoid the verbs of competition – focus instead on collaborative gestures and actions. and connect those to associated verbs and actions related to Self-Expression and Exploration.

Template: Social gestures

5. Non zero stats

Build group awareness with positive-sum stats

Games based on competition use zero-sum stats like points and leaderboards to juice the competitive feelings of players. In contrast, a cooperative game takes the player on a journey that’s built around shared goals, working with partners – and winning together.

Template: Zero-sum stats and spotlights

kickstarter logo_1

Cooperative Crowd-Sourcing Platform: Kickstarter

We analyze how crowdfunding platform Kickstarter weaves cooperative game mechanics into its customer experience.

What makes the cooperative design course unique?

Timeless Techniques

You’ll learn proven product design & development skills that you can apply over and over again.

Lifetime Access

Your training materials are yours forever to use and re-use for each new exciting project you embark on.

Ongoing Support

Never get stuck – you’ll have access to support and guidance every step of the way in our online learning community.


These companies used Game Thinking techniques…

…and so can you!

I’m excited to work with you

Hi. I’m Amy Jo Kim—social game designer, entrepreneur, and startup coach. I’ve worked with dozens of entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life. Through trial-and-error, we’ve learned what works—and what doesn’t—in the early stage of innovation.

Now we’ve embedded our knowledge, process and best shortcuts into a powerful and flexible online program—accessible to startups, game studios, accelerators, and companies worldwide. If you’re creating an innovative product, the Game Thinking Masterclass will help you create a product that delights your early, passionate customers—and that’s the single best way to increase your chances of success.

I’m deeply passionate about helping entrepreneurs worldwide create compelling and successful products. I look forward to helping you and your team make faster, smarter product decisions and accelerate your path towards product/market fit.

Register now

  • 90-day money back guarantee
  • 8 videos, 1 PDF download, 5 templates
  • Lifetime access to videos and community
  • Time requirement: 5-20 hours over 1-4 weeks.
  • Starts immediately, work at your pace.
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.