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Gaming for the Enterprise

March 3, 2010
at 12:00 pm PST

I went to the Virtual Edge Summit last week and had the pleasure of attending Byron Reeves, Professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, and Co-Founder and Faculty Co-Director of the H-STAR Institute and Media X, keynote address on “Total Engagement”.

Byron touched on a couple of things near and dear to the hearts of the Cisco Virtual Environment bloggers including gaming and education, the importance of self branding, leveraging virtual world environments to create compelling work spaces, community in networked virtual environments, and virtual environments being integral to doing business in the future.

One of the items Byron shared was a list of ten items shared between gamers and the workplace. These items are critical to success in a game but equally so for success in the workplace. The virtual world and game ingredients applicable to work include:

  1. Self representation – virtual teams are fundamental to business and enabling virtual team members to reflect their own brand is critical to empowering and motivating employees
  2. Compelling narrative – great stories equal great program/project plans
  3. Real time feedback – important to get feedback immediately in order to course correct to achieve the end goal
  4. Ranks and levels – understanding the chain of command and how one can climb the ladder can be very motivating and drive innovation via competition
  5. Transparency – this is critical as a transparent environment enables a higher sense of ‘buy in’ from those engaged
  6. Economics (aka budgeting) – no game or business plan is able to be successfully navigated without having a clear understanding of the economics related
  7. Teams – no one can be successful individually in a game or in a business program, it takes a village to really meet success criteria’s
  8. Communication – open communication via real time feedback and transparency using tools that nimbly enable the participants to engage is critical to success
  9. Rules – knowing the rules and how they create the structure for achieving the goal/s is fundamental for any gaming or business teams
  10. Time pressure – both games and business programs have time pressures which drive competition, motivate the team, and provide structure/rules for meeting the goals

As you can see games and work have a lot of intersections. One of the key topics of the keynote is that gamers all ready do work in games. In games they are all ready:

  1. Involved with identifying the goals and objectives of the activity
  2. Monitoring processes
  3. Identifying objects (information) critical to their success
  4. Categorizing information into manageable data

So why not tap into the initiative all ready shown in games by creating ways to game the job? In the long run it may not even be an option as the gaming generation will demand better designed work experiences. They will expect:

  1. Competition and fun
  2. Not being penalized for failure
  3. Opportunity to take risks
  4. Immediate feedback
  5. Hierarchy not being critical, i.e. flattened structure

The key take away for me was that play is not the opposite of work. Some interesting statistics (according to the folks at Seriosity) on how the gaming generation may affect work success include:

  1. 40% believe MMO leadership approaches can improve the enterprise
  2. 50% say games have improved leadership
  3. 75% say game elements enhance work

Some great examples for how gaming could improve some specific job functions include:

  1. Security Surveillance Operators
    This is a job with more data to take in than one can easily and quickly digest. Using heads up displays (HUDs) could be a great approach to enabling the operator to engage in the data in a relevant way. HUDs are often used in games to identify critical data points such as current level, steps to get to next level, current threats, steps to alleviate threats, etc. The beauty of a HUD is that all the data is laid out in a visual way that makes a complex scenario easier to digest and address.
  2. Call Center Operators
    This is a job role with a lot of turnover. Games could create a more engaging way for operators and call center managers to manage their day to day functions. Imagine instead of logging into a standard call center portal to see items in the queue, response status to date, and overall statistics on how the call center is operating the operators and call center managers could log into a game interface that provides all the same data but in a fun and interactive way. Operators could be notified of an incoming issue requiring response and be incentivized to respond first by getting immediate points added to their team leaderboard letting them see how they rank against the other operators. The premise being competition spurs engagement. The call center manager can review their operators rank on the leaderboard and feedback from those they have assisted and awards extra points, prizes, and/or monetary rewards real time. The premise being real time feedback spurs motivation. The game would provide a more transparent view of the call center results and standings than the standard web portal would. The premise being the more transparency available the more the operators and call center managers will feel ownership for their results.

As you can see it was an inspiring keynote address. For all of us gamers we have known a lot of this for some time but always good to get affirmation that our assumptions are 100% on track. I look forward to the future and being part of the gaming at work revolution!

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7 Comments.


  1. It sounds like it was a very interesting keynote, thanks so much for giving us gamers another reason to justify our hobby! :)

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  2. Dannette Veale

    Brian,Glad you enjoyed the blog post. I was also pleased to have ‘justification’ for the game research I do for my job :)I always new gaming made me smarter!Regards,Dannette

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  3. Dannette Veale

    Adam I agree 100%! Gaming effectively breaks geographics boundaries and truly does connect people in a very powerful way.

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  4. Great article !Games are in fact preparing people to real life challenges, something that immediately remembered me the function of games in wild nature.

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  5. Dannette Veale

    Nathan I never thought about it that way but you are so right that games are ingrained into the way wild animals learn to be successful hunters. Great insight!

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  6. We can do better than that, by feature testing at load-time if Array.prototype.slice/push can convert nodelist to array….!!!!

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  7. i love gaming and now I can tell my wife that this is how I learn. Gaming isn’t just a hobby, it is a way to bring people all over the world together and learn.

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