Cisco Blogs

Gaming your job – Will it be adopted?

August 23, 2007 - 6 Comments

An interesting area of study is the motivational factors behind Collaborative Environments. In looking into this, we started looking at how Online Gaming, specifically Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and Virtual Worlds create environments that motivate the players to actively participate and collaborate with others.Some of the things we’ve learned are that there are several main motivations for users to engage in these activities:1) Achievement – provides goals, challenge, reward, analysis of complex problems, and status2) Competition – provides challenge, success, reputation, ego and status3) Socialization – provides a way to help others, create friendships/relationships, collaboration, group-wide enthusiasm for a task, communication channels4) Exploration – allows discovery of new information/ideas, distraction and escapism5) Immersion – allows customization of the user or environment, allows personalized styleSome of these elements are also discussed in this article, Using game design to build the next Digg or FlickrWhen we look at most corporate collaboration environments, they often lack many of these elements. The problem is that adding many of these elements are often deemed to potentially invade privacy or require too much input from end-users that may not feel properly motivated to participate.So the challenge is finding creative ways to incorporate motivational factors into our Collaborative Environments such that users feel a need to engage with them and clearly understand the benefit they get (and the company gets) from their participation.I’ll throw out a few examples of interesting motivational techniques that I’ve heard about recently:Achievement – Several companies have deployed blogs to allow their employees to discuss topics that are relevant to their jobs or areas of interest. The blogging software allows other people to “rate” the content of the posts, similar to the way people rate books or movies on Periodically, a group within the company will pick the top rated 1 or 2 posting and have them highlighted on the companies internal web portal (e.g. CEC). This provides wide peer recognition as well as encouragement to others to get actively engaged with the tool.Productivity – Most of suffer from the problem of email overload, and the hassles of constantly having to maintain your Inbox or deal with Inbox quota problems. We also suffer from the problem of trying to keep up with long threads where people embed comments within the previous email. One way to help relieve some of this burden is by deploying blogs to serve as the discussion forums previously served by mail aliases. Now instead of sending an email to the “virtualworld-interest” alias, a user would post their question/comment/experience on the virtualworld-interest blog space. The space is RSS (Really Simple Syndication) enabled, so users can subscribe to the content as it dynamically updates. So as new responses and comments are posted to the original comment, several side benefits (to many users) occurs:1) The conversation is captured in a single space, that is searchable, taggable and grouped in conversation format.2) The updates can be published to other interested users via RSS, in near real-time. These RSS “feeds” can be read through any RSS reader, such as the Attensa RSS plugin for Outlook.3) Users email Inbox are not bombarded with questions and replies (and replies and replies), so they have less to manage in terms of maintaining their Inbox. So Blogs + RSS = Less Email in Inbox + Less Email Storage for Company + Searchable Discussions + Collaborative Knowledge for the CompanySocialization – Within TechCenter, one of the areas we’re looking at is Virtual Worlds and how this visually rich, immersive environment could help create more robust collaborative environments. While we are driving Cisco’s presence in Second Life, we’re also using Virtual Worlds to conduct all of our team meetings. The benefits of this include:1) Being able to see all team members visually (from 8 locations), giving a sense of team participation.2) Being able to visually see who is talking, which seems to help avoid alot of the overlapping conversations that happen on audio calls.3) “Seeing” the meeting, as opposed to hearing the meeting (WebEx, Meetingplace) keeps you more focused on the activity and less inclined to drift to other desktop activities. We’re just starting to learn how to harness the power of this technology, but it’s already given us more productivity meetings than we’ve had in the last 6-9 months on the project. Those are just a few examples of motivations for getting users to adopt new Collaboration Environments. I’d love to hear your examples (good or bad, big or small) of ways that your teams have been motivated to adopt these new technologies

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. I’ve been looking at this subject for a while from a more theoretical perspective. The biggest issue that I came across in discussions about this subject is the work vs. play tension. Many people (especially in the digital games community) are convinced that a lot of these motivational factors will no longer be valid when you put it in a work context..

  2. Videogames have also claimed to develop peculiar skills that might be useful in the daily job. On our blog, we discussed a society that uses videogames as a tool, offering interactive business solutions based on 3D video game technology. If you are interested, you can find the whole story hereCheers!”

  3. I guess you could say that fun is a reward. The difference is that the reward is in the activity itself, instead of external (such as a bonus or recognition by others). Some of the things that make virtual worlds fun are the autonomy they give you, the way they take you out of everyday existence and the apparent ease of making connections with others.

  4. Brian, an important thing to realise is that all four motivators you mention are in essense extrinsic: I do something to get a reward, not because I enjoy doing it. This reward can be monetary as well as social. What sets virtual worlds apart in my view is that they have the capacity to create intrinsic motivation: to make the activity itself fun.

  5. Thanks for the pointer, Jeroen. I’ve heard similar feedback from colleagues when we’ve discussed adding game-like functionality to their daily work tools. The lack of interest in sharing information (content, expertise, experience, personal info) seem to be centered around two things:1) Concern that something will get misrepresented to management and it will effect their next review.2) Concern that sharing personal expertise”” with a co-worker will give them an advantage the next time promotions come up.I’ve recently been encouraged by a couple conversations I’ve had with managers within Cisco that realize their groups need to be more productive and know the information they need exists within the company…somewhere. In talking to their employees, the feedback they received is that there are 4-5 ways they could be motivated to better engage in game-like functionality if available via the tools. They include: – $$ – Direct Recognition (visual)- Group Recognition (in a meeting)- PeerPressure (or “”ClearPressure) that others in the team are visibly doing it. Several of the managers are now looking at ways they can change some of the motivation and reward elements to better align to this input. So the good news is that it can be adopted, but it’s going to require the management side of the equation to realize the value and make the necessary adjustments to encourage end-user usage.”

  6. I’ve been looking at this subject for a while from a more theoretical perspective. See this presentation for a review. The biggest issue that I came across in discussions about this subject is the work vs. play tension. Many people (especially in the digital games community) are convinced that a lot of these motivational factors will no longer be valid when you put it in a work context.”