Saturday, September 24, 2011

How Gaming Transforms the Workplace | Casual Connect Seattle

With widespread access to broadband, social networks and multiple connected devices and tools on a daily basis, people are increasingly engaging in a fully connected and often gaming-centered digital world. This digitally-savvy population is also entering the workforce in larger numbers than ever — inciting vast changes in the workplace and re-defining our very understanding of how work “works”. Gaming and applied game elements, in particular, can make a dramatic impact on the quality of productivity, management, and even team-work itself. Whether you’re talking about making key personnel decisions, motivating employees, setting objectives or facilitating collaboration – these new ways of working will continue to shape the 21st century. Join Microsoft’s Ross Smith as he describes his experience and vision around how “productivity games” can help shape our working lives.

Delivered at Casual Connect Seattle, July 2011.

Monday, May 30, 2011

How Gamification Works

How Stuff Works

"Gamification" describes turning real-world situations into games. Gamification is a neologism -- a newly invented term that's becoming commonly used. The word gamification was likely born in the realm of casual conversation to convey the idea of turning something into a game. People like entrepreneur and author Gabe Zichermann, though, have given gamification its own unique definition. Zichermann, a respected authority on gamification and its applications, defines the term as "the process of using game thinking and mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems." In short, he describes gamification as "non-fiction gaming."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ribbon Hero 2

Clippy is back!

Ribbon Hero 2 uses game mechanics to teach players how to use Office.

Download here

CNN coverage is here

The storyline with Clippy keeps a theme across levels of learning.

"In Ribbon Hero 2, you'll hop on board Clippy's stolen time machine and explore different time periods. With each time period, you get to explore a new game board with challenges you must complete to get to the next level."

YouTube video here

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Crowdsourcing Can Help Companies Find Scarce Data Analysis Skills

IT Business Edge

As Darren Vengroff, a former lead researcher for Amazon's recommendation engine, said in a Forbes article, Netflix "spent the same amount and got thousands, probably millions of engineer-years."

So it's not too surprising to see other companies trying to attain similar R&D returns by offering big bucks to folks who can help figure out the answers to complex data analysis questions.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, California physicians group Heritage Provider Network Inc. is offering $3 million to the participant who develops the best model to predict how many days a patient is likely to spend in the hospital in a year's time. Contestants will receive "anonymized" insurance-claims data to create their models.

Heritage executive Jonathan Gluck says the goal is to reduce the number of hospital visits, by identifying patients who could benefit from services such as home nurse visits.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lync IM an Expert

IM an Expert helps connect people asking questions with a set of self identified experts via IM. Experts compete via a leaderboard to answer questions using Lync instant messenging. Great example of a productivity game :-)


Are there experts in your enterprise that would like to share their knowledge? Do you find yourself trying to find the right person to answer a particular question?

IM an Expert for Lync Server 2010 can help connect experts in an organization with those seeking their advice. Unlike forums, distribution lists or other existing methods, IM an Expert can provide almost immediate assistance by searching for available experts and using IM to contact them

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It Doesn't Feel Like Work--the Power of Intrinsic Motivation


It is amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit." - John Wooden

Rewards and punishments are often thought of in terms of "extrinsic" motivators--incentives that go beyond, or are greater than, the task itself and which are offered up by someone other than those performing the task. A child receives a piece of candy for sitting still or a salesman gets a trip to Hawaii for selling above quota. External motivation can often take the form of punishment or manipulation as well.

Most of us have to work to earn a living--with the evidence on display in that legendary contrivance known as a paycheck. There are many powerful inducements to show up and perform each and every day, whether you enjoy it or not, but the paycheck is often the most compelling.

In 1905, Howard Washington Odum wrote:

Well, you wake up in the mornin',
You hear the work bell ring,
And they march you to the table to see the same old thing.
Ain't no food upon the table, and no pork up in the pan.
But you better not complain, boy,
You get in trouble with the man.

On the contrary, we all have seen those intrinsically motivated people perform each of their tasks for the enjoyment or satisfaction of the task itself. (It's awe-inspiring--and sometimes jealousy-inducing.)

In "Social Influences on Creativity: The Effects of Contracted-For Rewards" (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, p383), Teresa Amabile suggests that "people are intrinsically motivated to engage in a particular task if they view their task engagement as motivated primarily by their own interest and involvement in the task".

Does a paycheck, salary bonus, raise, or promotion put more work in to work? Well, it sure seems like lavish raises, exotic vacations, those coveted employee-of-the-month parking spots, and massive bonuses would make work more fun, doesn't it? The research suggests otherwise: rewards, or worse, the threat of punishment actually make work less enjoyable and perhaps even reduce productivity. These extrinsic elements can make work feel like work.

People who are offered rewards tend to "...choose easier tasks, are less efficient in using the information available to solve novel problems, and tend to be answer oriented and more illogical in their problem solving strategies. They seem to work harder and produce activity, but the activity is of a lower quality, contains more errors, and is more stereotyped and less creative than the work of comparable non-rewarded subjects working on the same problem."

Perhaps a goal of the "take the work out of work" moonshot could be to shift from extrinsic motivation to intrinsic--to build teams of people who are self-motivated by the tasks themselves; inspired by the vision or mission of the organization, rather than by the promise of a paycheck, a bonus, or a raise. Confucius said, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." (John Condry “Enemies of Exploration: Self-initiated vs. Other-initiated Learning” p. 471)

And in one of the perhaps all-time greatest testimonials to the power of intrinsic motivation, Theodore Roosevelt, in Paris in 1910, said:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

So, as we move along the path away from extrinsic rewards towards intrinsic motivation, we begin with external regulation--performing a task to get a reward or to avoid a punishment.
As Alfie Kohn, author of Punished by Rewards, suggests:

"Sure, bribes and threats can produce temporary compliance. Offer a reward to adults for going to the gym, or to children for picking up a book, and it may work -- for a while. But they come to think of themselves as extrinsically motivated, so when the reward is no longer available there's no reason to continue. Indeed, they may wind up less interested in exercising or reading than they were before."

Let's survey a few recent submissions on the MiX and look for evidence that might support this idea that an increasing the level of intrinsic motivation in the workplace could help to take the work out of work.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Gamification of Work


Gamification, the use of game elements, or game play mechanics, for non-game applications, is getting a lot of attention these days. Later this month at the Game Developer’s Conference, the "Great Gamification Debate " will dispute the merits of adding game elements to real life. Check out Jesse Schell’s Gamepocalypse talk, Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken on Colbert, and Business Week’s recent article

In the renowned "Homo Ludens", Johan Huizinga, describes play as "an activity which proceeds within certain limits of time and space, in a visible order, according to rules freely accepted, and outside the sphere of necessity or material utility. The play-mood is one of rapture and enthusiasm, and is sacred or festive in accordance with the occasion. A feeling of exaltation and tension accompanies the action, mirth and relaxation follow." (Homo Ludens, Johan Huizinga, p. 132)

Wow! Wouldn’t it be great if that’s how you described your workplace? Douglas MacGregor, in Theory X, suggests that "work is as natural as play." Perhaps, we can follow the lead of these HCI M-Prize innovators and "gamify" our work—adding more game elements, beyond the typical player vs. player competition and zero sum, winner-take-all rewards so commonplace in corporations today. Perhaps we could all achieve the success that these M-Prize folks have brought to their workplace.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Business Week: 'Gamification': A Growing Business to Invigorate Stale Websites

Business Week

When done right, games exert a strong psychological influence over consumers, says Amy Jo Kim, a game designer who worked on hits such as Rock Band after earning a PhD in behavioral neuroscience. "What games do is help you come up with stories about yourself," she says. Earning points or reaching new levels creates the illusion of progress and is akin to "telling you a story about yourself getting better and stronger and more powerful," she says.

Social status is another motivator. "We have this tendency to care about what image we portray," says Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University. In real life, there are mansions and handbags. "In the gaming world," says Ariely, "there are badges."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Giants’ safeties wish Tom Coughlin would be more like Rex Ryan

From NBC Sports

We are approaching the NFL Super Bowl in the U.S., and throughout the playoffs, there’s been a lot of talk about, and by, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan. Last week, two New York Giants players, who are not in the playoffs compared their coach, Tom Coughlin, to the Jets Ryan. Safety Antrel Rolle said about Coughlin, “If he just loosened up just a little bit, run the ship the way you want to run it, run the program the way you want to run it but let us have a little fun, because at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about. . . . I like the coach, I understand what he’s trying to do but he has to understand it’s 2011, man, things have changed.”