Using Video Games in the Workplace to Boost Productivity

by Robinson, Marcia Friday, October 28, 2011
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Have you heard about the latest trend to use video games to enhance employee engagement in the workplace?

How about virtual reality competitions and video games with leaderboards and other trappings of gaming in the workplace? A recent Wall Street Journal article, Latest Game Theory; Mixing Work and Play, shed some light on the practice of what one might call "enhanced gamification techniques" in the workplace. The concept? Bring the energy of video gaming and competition into routine job assignments and watch employees perform at their highest level. As an example one worker at SAP was able to use gaming to revolutionize a routine invoicing process.

Games and competition in the workplace is nothing new. Ask any sales manager who has inspired a sales team to meet or beat targets about competitive incentive programs. Ask any HR training and development professional who has spent hours dreaming up games and activities designed to help workers become better managers or build stronger teams. From the faux Jeopardy or Family Feud PowerPoints aimed at increasing product knowledge, to the team building exercises designed to help workers figure out how many employees can fit on a sheet of newspaper, HR trainers have done it. Typically, these games end when HR heads back to the office or the training consultant exits the building. The military also, for years, has been using simulations and video gaming for training.


Today's enhanced gamification techniques are expected to take workers beyond training and into routine operations. Games are expected to become a part of life within the organization and will linger well beyond any specific workshops.

Why are big companies like IBM and Deloitte signing on to gaming at work? Well HR Managers will probably tell you something about higher productivity, virtual project teams, globally distributed workplaces and just embracing new ways to work. Gabe Zichemann, who organized the first ever Gamification Summit in New York last September has a different, more compelling reason. "Most people's jobs are really freaking boring."