As many of you are well aware, the potential of gamification extends far beyond recreational fun. And 2013 was the year that a new book was published exploring this exact topic. It’s called Play at Work: How Games Inspire Breakthrough Thinking by Adam Penenberg, a professor of journalism at New York University. He is also the assistant director at NYU’s business and economic program. As a media contributor, he has written for Fast Company, New York Times, Washington Post. He as also appeared on the Today Show, American Morning on CNN, ABC’s World News and Money Line.
Penenberg reminds us that games are everywhere. They are no longer thought of as being just for children and computer geeks. There is an endless array of mobile game apps for kids of all ages. Twitter can be considered a game where interesting tweets can grow the number of RT’s and followers. There are also lottery games like Powerball, Take Five and Mega Millions. Nissan has even incorporated a game within their newest models to encourage drivers to compete for the best efficiency levels.
Traditional forms of teaching seek to inspire learning, creativity, divergent thought processes, personal productivity and smart problem solving. As much as parents and teachers want to impart these lessons, they feel like obligatory lists of shoulds and to-do’s for most people. But when these objectives are integrated with thoughtful game design, they can be met quite easily and effortlessly. This dynamic has led to the development of highly innovative and practical applications for learning and productivity, particularly for business organizations, science, medicine, technology and culture.
The use of game mechanics within the workplace and other fields which depend on innovation has led to phenomenal results. Not only is information being easily assimilated and remembered, but also being applied effectively in real situations. And through quality game design, purposeful ideas and solutions are being generated at a faster rate than ever before.
Penenberg feels that mundane tasks can turn into fun activities that employees would actually be motivated to play. But this is not to say that games should be designed as efforts to squeeze more productivity out of them. Instead, the objective of the game design should be to cultivate a sense of fulfillment, engagement and satisfaction. With this intent, games can be designed to truly provide enriching and rewarding growth experiences, instead of bribing players with points.
Play at Work cites examples such as Google, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Loreal, Canon, Wells Fargo, Lexus, FedEx, UPS and IBM.