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Imagine working in an environment where playing games was encouraged. If certain software companies have their way this will be a reality in the future office environment. New employees would receive their training through virtual scenario games. Information sharing would take place in a similar environment to Web 2.0. And employees would receive points based on their performance. Spending a day at the office has the potential to become more interactive.

Why Games?

Should games and work be mixed together at the workplace? This question was researched by IBM, Seriosity (a company that creates enterprise software that was inspired by multiplayer games), MIT and Stanford. It turns out that avid players of online mass-multiplayer games, like World of Warcarft (WoW), acquired qualities that would make them ideal managers. These skills included assessing strategic risks, gathering information from different sources, identifying problems and quickly taking on another challenge.

During mass-multiplayer games it is common for a player to jump in to a leadership position to solve a problem. If this type of environment and project-oriented leadership were adopted in the business world more employees might be willing to try on the role of ‘leader’. Pieces of the dialogue between WoW gamers were also analyzed. The results showed that players who worked as a team advanced more quickly. Games could also aid in the development of qualities essential to successful teamwork amongst colleagues. Seriosity has listed more qualities that they believe gaming can enhance in the business world: incentive structures for long and short term motivation; virtual economies that design a marketplace for information and collaboration; transparency of capabilities and performance; recognition for work and; access to networks of communication for the organization. Perhaps gaming can exist side by side with work.

Virtual Training in the Office

Similar to how it works in the business world a gamer must undergo a series of tasks in order to advance and; since these two share qualities that are mutually beneficial; why not develop a system for virtual training? There are two types of virtual training, 3D and 2D. 3D virtual training could be used to develop interpersonal skills like those used by a salesman. Breakway has developed a game called “Virtual Training Bank” where players take part in banking scenarios. For example, for fraud detection the participant must detect discrepancies in staff members’ stories. 2D virtual training would use scenarios to spark group discussion on the subject. For example, HR staff could discuss conflict resolution scenarios in order to determine efficient methods to settle disputes. Blueline Simulations has developed “Executive Challenge” where teams compete to grow the most successful business. With this type of training staff members could take a trial run in the virtual business world before they took on the role in reality. Keep in mind that this type of training is not completely revolutionary; the military has had success with this type of training for years.

Attent

According to a survey conducted in 2006 by the Radicati Group, one-quarter of the average corporate worker’s work day is spent sorting through e-mails. This is due to the numerous CCs, FYIs and CYAs sent by colleagues. Seriosity has developed an e-mail system where employees would receive a limited amount of ‘serios’ each week. These serios are to be attached to an e-mail to indicate the level of importance. Outlook does have the red exclamation mark, but since there is no limit on how many times someone can use they become meaningless. In Attent there is a limited amount of serios, so the number of useless e-mails should be reduced. Workers will be able to arrange their e-mails by level of importance to ensure that urgent messages are dealt with promptly. Recipients of an e-mail can reply with a modified amount of serios. This way the sender can compare his level of importance to that of his co-workers. To continuously receive replies with more serios attached shows that this worker is adding value to the organization. To get a reply with less serios would demonstrate that your message was off target.

Collaborative Environments Using “Super Groupware”

David Jacobson of PrincewaterhouseCoopers would like to have gaming incorporated into everyday office life. Participation would be encouraged and the ‘gaming world’ would continue to operate even when some users were not active. This resembles the type of Web 2.0 environment that gyminee.com utilizes. Here members set individual fitness goals, check their progress and can motivate others in their group, creating a successful mixture of fun interaction with fitness coaching. Within a business “Super GroupWare” could create a collaborative environment to share all forms of information on one database. This would make sharing quicker since switching software to view certain documents would not be required. With this technology all forms of unstructured information could be digitized and made accessible. Communication between co-workers would also be simplified through instant messaging. Gartner (market researcher) predicts that 80% of internet users will have digital versions of themselves, or avatars, that they will use for recreation and the work place by 2011; and that by the end of 2012 50% of American companies will be using networked virtual office environments where they will have the capability for global communication, to train new staff members and have meetings.

With the success of social media marketing in recent years and the increased productivity that the internet has introduced to the work world is it really that much of a surprise that the workplace is capitalizing on these forms of information sharing?

7 comments

Posted by Adam at 11:17 am at 25. November 2009

I worry that virtual gaming is/has become to ingrained in our lives. Scenarios that involve gaming and violence in my opinion cheapin life. What if gaming were to become so ingrained that the gamers were actually caring out the extermination of real life game characters with out remorse or knowledge of the acts. . or maybe I have just been watching too much scifi?

Posted by Ashish Kalmegh at 3:14 pm at 25. November 2009

Gaming is not just for fun but it is the industry where companies can earn much profit too ,

Posted by Bill at 9:00 am at 26. November 2009

The article links practices that look similar and draws a conclusion that may not be valid. It may be that in games people “jump in to a leadership position” but in the game the cost of their inexperience is trivial. In the real world we like to work for people who may be fallible but demonstrated an ability through their document experiences.

There may be a role for some software gaming techniques in learning scenarios, but much of what people learn is about social interactions using real people, who have real emotions, who embarras, etc. Few areas beyond the shop floor are trival that they can be reduced to a computer simulation or where a video will suffice. Often when simulations can help, they already do – think flight training for real pilots or astronauts.

Posted by Anne Taylor at 3:03 pm at 30. November 2009

Gaming can be either a very positive influence on people or a negative. Much of that depends on the games themselves. I am a strong believer in the positive aspects of gaming, specifically the “superhero” genre. Let me give you some examples.

I was in a car with a group of guys who I had been gaming with for years (superhero games, mostly). It was dark, around 9 PM or so, and we were stopped for a red light, with one car in front of us. Suddenly, the passenger side door of that car opened and someone got out, stumbled into the lane to our right, and collapsed. All four of our doors flew open at once. One friend who had advanced first aid ran to the person who had collapsed. Another one grabbed a flashlight and stepped into the street to warn cars off. Another grabbed a blanket out of the trunk. The driver turned on the car’s flashers and then went to talk to the driver of the car. I called 911. It wasn’t until afterwards, when I was going over the events of the evening in my head that I realized that we hadn’t even had to exchange a word, other than reporting “I’m calling 911″ “I have a flashlight, I’ll warn off the cars” “Do you have a blanket? – In the trunk, here’s the keys”. We had been acting as a team for so many years that it just became automatic. In that moment in time, we *were* superheroes, not in the “out of touch with reality, I think I’m Batman” way, but in our purposes and instincts.

My friend has a son who he started runing in superhero games from a very early age. The son is a teenager now, but when he was much younger my friend would get reports back from teachers about how his son would break up fights and put a stop to bullying in school, informing the bullies that “Superman would put you in prison with the Joker” (he got his comic lore from games, not comics :) or telling them that “bullies don’t get to be superheros, they just go to jail” and starting up a “superhero team” that only kids who acted like Good Guys got to join. Apparently it made such a splash in the school that it continued for several years even after he went off to middle school.

My youngest brother was the only one in a family of extremist introverts to not only be extremely popular at school, but also to be an excellent actor. He attributes his ease in social situations to the fact that he started role playing at age 4 (when I discovered gaming in college and brought it home on the weekends).

I think one of the great benefits gaming could have in a business situation is the building of teamwork, and the creations of patterns of behavior. It also allows people to explore roles that they might otherwise be afraid to try because, as a previous poster mentioned, “the cost of their inexperience is trivial”. It would be fascinating to see if this could actually be implemented.

I would disagree that we want to work with people who have “documented experience”. I’ve worked in the software industry for over twenty years and managers and co-workers with “documented experience” are no more likely to be good to work with than newcomers. In fact, one of the best managers I’ve ever had was barely “middle range” in experience, and two of the all time worst managers I’ve had have been very “experienced”. One of them even bragged about how he was awarded “Manager of the Year” twice by the company he used to work for. I just had to shake my head. He was a crappy manager. Self centered, hyper-critical and prone to passive aggressive behavior and snide remarks undercutting the self confidence of others, especially the younger ones.

The leader of a game (called the game-master) is the one who decides whether a game is going to lead people toward positive behavior or negative. You can run a game where the only goals are to kill things, steal things, accumulate wealth and power, etc. You can also run a game where players have opportunities for helping people and making the world a better place. I know which one I’m going to be running my kids in.

Posted by Davos at 12:15 am at 27. December 2009

Adam, Where in this article does it mention violence in gaming?
You have certainly been watching too much sci-fi. The evidence is that gaming does not cause real life violence.

There are psychotic people out there, and if they happen to watch scarface or play a shooting game and then carry out acts of violence in real life then this is their psychosis, not the violent media they have engaged in, that is responsible.

I think the worry is for people like yourself who are not capable of comprehending the difference between a game and reality, or in fact thinking for yourself in any constructive way and contributing positively to society. People used to blame television for everything, now they blame video games. The alternative is a totalitarian state where all forms of media are banned just in case people get ideas from it and develop as individuals rather than part of the communist masses. I couldn’t think of anything worse.

Posted by jazmine malicoat at 12:33 pm at 24. February 2010

thats a b******.

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