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.