All Work, No Games: No Business Benefit

Games are not just kid's play anymore.

The application of gaming technology in everyday business has become so popular we now have a name for it- gamification.  Gamification is an opportunity to enhance normally mundane learning experiences and operational functions for increased motivation and increased performance.  At the most rudimentary level consider the frequent flier programs. They are really 21st century scavenger hunts where customers are rewarded for "finding" items with different points. To the winner goes the spoils. Customers begin to make buying decisions based on points to get that brass ring.  One of the newest entries in the gaming of business are the location networking services like Foursquare and Facebook Places where frequent visitors are rewarded with badges like "mayor." The mayor then may receive special benefits or perks from the company they favor.

At this point you might be wondering how the heck your business could use games for improved performance and not more playtime for your employees.

Natron Baxtor Applied Gaming offers one solution. They call it "The Garden.". The Garden motivates employees toward higher levels of productivity through its integrated desktop interface. Response times and activities directed toward customers and team members are monitored. Player response times provide the flora with water, sunlight, and fertilizer. Failure to respond quickly – or at all – causes the garden to wilt and makes it susceptible to pests. The garden responds to attention: the faster and more frequent response, the more new plants and animals arrive.

Now consider how a game like this might increase referrals and leads. Or what it might do to meet or beat a project deadline and increase collaboration, especially as more workers find themselves telecommuting and working virtual. Games like this are now being used to onboard new employees, immersing both the recent hire and the existing workforce in the process. The Garden unifies employee behavior with corporate objectives.

Increasing the use of games in your business might also be the perfect prescription for the organization that finds itself facing a Baby Boomer brain drain, high turnover in the Generation Y workforce, or a disruptive rift between old and young workers. 55 and older is the fastest growing demographic using social networking sites on Facebook and Gen Y grew up with gaming devices, and now mobile devices, as extensions of their fingers. What better way to connect multiple genertions in the workforce.

Game technology comes in all shapes and sizes from social games like Farmville and Mafia Wars on Facebook to the virtual 3-D world of Second Life. Multiplayer online games like IBM's Innov8 are being used to improve collaboration, productivity, and engagement. Games are being used to inform, reinforce, and embed business strategy, to drive motivation, and stimulate innovation. As the benefits of using game technology for business performance becomes more mainstream, you can't resist asking if an organization's next hire might not be a Chief Gaming Officer?

What do you think? How is your organization using gaming technology?
Do you see any drawbacks?


Ira S Wolfe


  1. Stephani Hill September 3, 2011 at 8:39 pm -

    Gamification! I like it. I didn’t realize there was an actual term for it.