Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Does Gaming at Work Improve Productivity? – PCWorld

Interesting article in PC World on how playing games at work can be beneficial. http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/155284/does_gaming_at_work_improve_productivity.html

Red Orbit has a similar article - http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/1610355/offices_use_video_games_to_raise_morale_productivity/

It still seems that the more interesting, innovative approach is to combine the two. One of the companies mentioned, Snowfly, appears to taking this approach. There still remains a custom element that can be challenging to overcome. Many areas of expertise for a given organization are unique – that's why people are hired to work, and so a generic game doesn't capture that uniqueness. However, there are other areas that are core competencies of all workers, and tasks that require those skills that can help the organization. These "organizational citizenship behaviors" are a far better place to build games than the unique "in role" tasks – not only from the emotional perspective of the employee ("why are you inviting everyone to come do my job with this game, am I not doing it OK myself?" , but also from a return on investment perspective. Productivity games do not have be expensive to build, but they are not free either.

Since most people probably just a game of Solitaire, then a spreadsheet and use Alt+Tab when people walk by the idea of a custom game to play to help the organization is probably appealing…

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Changing the Game on CNET

Daniel Terdiman reviews Changing the Game on CNET

'Changing the Game' book shows how games can help business



And in the audio interview, the authors talk about Productivity Games, including the Windows Vista Beta1 and Beta2 games …


Monday, December 1, 2008

Productivity Games Interview – FIR - The Hobson and Holtz Report

http://www.forimmediaterelease.biz/index.php?/weblog/the_hobson_holtz_report_podcast_400_november_24_2008/ (episode #400) – about 4:10 mins into the show

The Hobson & Holtz Report - Podcast #400: November 24, 2008

about this Thursday's show; Michael Netzley interviews Microsoft's Ross Smith;

Get FIR:

FIR #400 show notes at The New PR Wiki

Friday, November 21, 2008

Theory Y Meets Generation Y

The Management Innovation Lab has published an article on productivity games, trust, and innovation.

Theory Y meets Generation Y

Julian Birkinshaw and Stuart Crainer look at a Microsoft team that is changing the way it works by incorporating the interests of its young employees to increase creativity and productivity.

Go to www.managementlab.org

and click on "latest issue" on the right or here -->


Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Few Good Links

"You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else." – Einstein

Lots of interest in productivity games these days - here are a few links to explore….

Changing the Game http://www.changingthegamebook.com/

- buy this book!

NY Times blog (link)

Edge – Changing the Game (link)

The Economist - http://www.economist.com/daily/columns/businessview/displayStory.cfm?story_id=11997115

HBR – Learning Leadership Online - http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/hbsp/hbr/articles/article.jsp?ml_subscriber=true&ml_action=get-article&&articleID=R0805C&pageNumber=1

IBM Gaming and Leadership Report - Studying management practices in on-line games

New Gym Features Video Games - http://www.kcci.com/health/17971532/detail.html


The Name of the Game is Work – Business Week


Gaming may pay off at work http://www.canada.com/topics/technology/games/story.html?id=5e294b2e-c374-4fcd-b118-750a2e82e2ed&k=47110

IBM's Innov8 – BPM - http://www-01.ibm.com/software/solutions/soa/innov8.html

Play the News game – http://www.playthenewsgame.com

America's Army – Recruiting - http://www.americasarmy.com/

Re-mission - http://www.re-mission.net/

Incident Commander–emergency response - http://www.incidentcommander.net/

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth and OCBs

In 1949, Joseph Campbell (www.jcf.org ) wrote "The Hero with A Thousand Faces", and although he did not coin the term monomyth, he made extensive use of it to characterize his thesis that stories through the ages shared fundamental elements that made them successful.

Many successful Hollywood projects have either deliberately or unintentionally followed the Campbell formula to create blockbuster hits. Star Wars, Thelma and Louise, Northern Exposure, and Raiders of the Lost Ark are a few of the many familiar film and television hits that drew upon the principles of the monomyth.

Over the last several years, video game designers have been evaluating these same principles as a foundation for successful storytelling in games. As we think about the use of games at work, and how to design effective productivity games, these same principles are worth considering.

Campbell's monomyth is based upon the idea of a hero.

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.[1]

Presumably, the hero in a productivity game is the employee. I would assert that most employees would not describe additional work as a "region of supernatural wonder" – but perhaps "the world of common day" does apply. Therefore, the game design must draw the employee out of their regular work into the "region of supernatural wonder".

This definition aligns perfectly with "organizational citizenship behaviors" – OCB's – (Wikipedia link) – which are work-related, but "are discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system." Therefore, since these behaviors are not recognized by the formal reward system, a well-designed game can provide an informal or secondary reward system. As Dennis Organ asks of managers in his book Organizational Citizenship Behavior (link), "What are the things you'd like your employees to do more of, but can't really make them do, and for which you can't guarantee any definite rewards, other than your appreciation?"

Combining the "region of supernatural wonder" of Campbell with the definitive goals of citizenship behaviors provides tremendous opportunities for productivity games. The goal of productivity games is to attract and retain players. The more players, and the more frequently people play the game, then more work gets done. Building upon the structure of Campbell's "Hero's Journey" is a tremendous way to engage players, and draw upon those fundamental elements of the monomyth to challenge the hero.

The successful deployment of the monomyth in Hollywood keeps movie-goers from leaving the Star Wars showing as Luke faces the atonement of the father with Darth Vader, or Clarice recites the story of the lamb in Silence of the Lambs, or in Titanic, when Rose has her doubts about marrying Cal despite her mother's concerns with money and status. These examples of the monomyth work well for Hollywood, so it's safe to assume that a well designed story could keep the hero at work engaged in the "region of supernatural wonder".


Joseph Campbell Foundation

Hero with A Thousand Faces on Amazon

Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers Amazon

Organizational Citizenship Behaviors – Wikipedia link

Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Its Nature, Antecedents, and Consequences (Foundations for Organizational Science) Amazon

Screenplay, Story Structure link




Saturday, October 4, 2008

Vista games in The Economist

Recently, The Economist published (link) a review of the upcoming book by David Edery and Ethan Mollick – Changing the Game: How Video Games Are Transforming the Future of Business. The article talks about the use of games in the development of Windows Vista. These games were also mentioned in chapter 5 of The Practical Guide to Defect Prevention, and in a review in Inc. Magazine. (link)


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Using Games in Testing

See Google's Testing Blog on Productivity Games

For those of you that came from there…

see Circular Reference - A circular reference, sometimes referred to as a run-around, is a series of references where the last object references the first...

Also, see Time Magazine's great article on Games in preparation for the Olympics this summer.


Play is elemental to being human. All of us, when tiny children, tossed colored balls around, or watched lights dance before our eyes, or marveled at the patterns on our mothers' skirts. All of us once threw a pebble, a stick or a ball; all of us, sooner or later, enjoyed playing with a sibling or a friend, hopscotching down a pavement, running along a dirt track.

All of us sooner or later formed teams — though usually something far less formal and serious than that implies — to compete (without knowing the word or its meaning) in games of skill or chance. We have all played games; play is part of what and who we are. "Play cannot be denied," wrote the great Dutch sociologist and historian Johan Huizinga in 1938, in his magisterial book Homo Ludens. "You can deny, if you like, nearly all abstractions: justice, beauty, truth, goodness, mind, God. You can deny seriousness, but not play."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Serious Games Summit 2008

The Serious Games Summit was held Feb 18-19th in San Francisco.

More info on the conference is here

Ben Sawyer presented his taxonomy here, which includes "Games at work" – what we're calling "productivity games"

Our slides are here.

Also, check out the Top Brand Names and Top Magazine Covers in these pairwise voting experiments.

We are trying to apply some learning from Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Presidential Blink Game

Please send this link around if you are so inclined – I hope this is a fun game to play (it's loosely based on the book Blink) and the goal is to strictly to generate some traffic/interest in the Defect Prevention site/book   (we use some games like this on our team) – and should hopefully provide an interesting view of the upcoming election.

Pairwise comparisons - 2008 US Presidential Candidates

Vote on which US Presidential candidate you prefer in a series of pairwise comparisons.