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.
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.
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?