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What Hacking Space Invaders Frenzy Can Teach Us About Work and Play

Beyond bragging rights and high scores—these are lessons that we can apply in the arcade and in everyday life.

Space Invaders Frenzy - Photo By: Val Vacante 

Whether you are a gamer or not, if you’ve ever been to an arcade or pizza joint you’ve likely played the 1978 arcade classic Space Invaders created by Taito (pew pew pew—that’s laser sounds). Space Invaders Frenzy by Raw Thrills is an updated version of the arcade classic and it is a blast.

Historically, gamers have been problem solvers, explorers, and innovators so there is no surprise that gamers have found a way to hack Space Invaders Frenzy. Hacking Space Invaders Frenzy started with the goal to win as many tickets as possible. The more “Invader Bonuses” that you win, the more tickets that you will receive and the better the prize that you can redeem them for, prizes might rage from mood rings, lava lamps, VR headsets, video game consoles and more.

Beyond having the most tickets, the best prize and bragging rights, hacking Space Invaders helps uncover lessons that we can apply to work and play in our everyday lives.

Playing the game

According the Raw Thrills, “The objective of the game is to shoot as many invader ships as possible while protecting your “cannons” at the bottom of the screen. The player wins tickets by accumulating as many points as possible before their cannons are destroyed. Points are accrued by shooting enemy invaders and bonus UFO ships. If you reach the targeted score to beat, you’ll win the “Invader Bonus." - Raw Thrills featured Arcade Heroes

The two-player mode of Space Invaders Frenzy is setup to have player one face off “against” player two to see who gets the highest score and the most tickets.

How does facing off hold us back in work and play?

Space Invaders Frenzy - Photo By: Val Vacante 

  • We work in silos: The two-player mode is set up to be competitive “against each other” rather than fun, collaborative problem-solving. Each player is out for their personal win.
  • We move slower: Unless anyone happens to get a high score, you will both walk away with far fewer tickets (for example 50 instead of 500, depending on your skill-level).
  • We spend more money: It takes longer and more money to win big. For example, if it costs $3.00/player, per game and on average you earn 50 tickets, that will cost you $30.00 to earn 500 tickets.

How can we work better, smarter and faster?

How can we hack Space Invaders Frenzy or any other game to work better, smarter and faster (cue Daft Punk! That is not the answer, but it is good theme music)?

The Answer? Teamwork. It sounds a bit cliche, but it is true and it works, working together makes a team better, smarter and faster. But how do we do that and how does that help us hack Space Invaders Frenzy?

  • Work better together - Agree “as a team” on a solid goal, for example, “we want to get the most tickets and have fun doing it.”
  • Work smarter together - Work together to complement each other’s strengths. In the case of Space Invaders Frenzy, have one player get as many points as possible with the other player protecting as a backup. Once you hit your high score, switch roles to support the other player so that they can try to catch up to hit another high score (or get more tickets).
  • Win faster together - By working to shared goals you’ll likely get more points, win the bonus faster, spend less money, and get more tickets. Depending on your skill level, you could pay $3.00 per person, per play and by working together potentially earn 500 tickets with $6.00. 

Keeping Score

Space Invaders Frenzy - Photo By: Val Vacante

In evaluating the costs of working in silos vs. working together, there is a clear winner. Imagine if we applied the same principles and math to our business?

Here is a tangible example from Space Invaders Frenzy:

  • Working in silos = $30.00/person, total $60.00 to get to 500 tickets
  • Working together = $3.00/person, total $6.00 to get to 500 tickets
  • 90% reduction in cost - think about how much pizza you could buy or how many other games you could play?

Wouldn’t we all like to have those numbers at work, in the business world? Imagine if our product, marketing, research and innovation teams (among others) worked better, smarter and faster.

Game On!

Space Invaders Frenzy - Photo By: Val Vacante

Head to your local arcade (yes, they still exist) and give Space Invaders Frenzy a go. There are always unexpected surprises that games can teach us all on working better, smarter and through teamwork. Plus, you might even get enough tickets to win a lava lamp or two along the way.

What lessons have you learned from retro gaming that can be applied to business and everyday life?

About the Author

Valerie Vacante is the Founder of Collabsco, a strategy and innovation firm based in Austin, Texas. For over 14 years, Valerie has led cross-functional teams to create meaningful, revenue-driving, consumer-centric experiences that connect brands, people and emerging technologies. She has worked with Fortune 100 brands such as AT&T, Mercedes-Benz, MINI and Nestlé as well as up-and-coming startups across the U.S. and Europe. In between driving what’s next in emerging tech, culture and design, Valerie also serves as a member of the SXSW Interactive Innovation Advisory Board, Contributing Writer to various publications and mentor to Austin-based startups. You can find her at arcades playing retro gaming classics and Laser Tag.

Twitter: @valvacante 

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