How Video Games are Changing the Workplace

by Parks Associates | Jun. 18, 2012

Businesses are struggling with the idea of playing games at work because its connotation leads to the idea of having fun without a purpose. However, the practical application of gamification is disrupting that assumption and slowly changing the way businesses learn.

Gamification is applying engaging elements of game theory to non-game applications. An example would be to create a game to learn something new for work: While a lecture session could potentially turn off employees and prevent learning, a game that teaches the same skills could lead to an interested employee that is eager to learn.

Companies need to embrace the idea of blending games with work. In order for that to happen, gamification needs to be perceived as a profession, instead of a frivolous activity. Proper application must have a minimum knowledge base and skill set about the given subject matter, as well as both theory and practical application of its core principles. Lastly, it must create a common vehicle for advocacy and ethics to maintain standards.

According to a study by Parks Associates, the number of people playing video games in the U.S. has risen 241% since 2008. Therefore, games have become a facet of our everyday lives, and Taylor, senior vice president for communications and industry affairs at the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) shared how games are making the transition into the business world:

“Today’s games drive technological and societal advancements that serve gamers and non-gamers alike. Teachers at all levels use games in the classroom to teach history and civics, build STEM skills and teach foreign languages. Healthcare providers use video games in physical therapy and treatment programs, and to educate patients about their conditions. Surgeons use video game simulations to help practice difficult procedures.”

In order to understand how far gamification has come, it’s important to know where it started. Tim Lynch, one of the first psychologists to study the effects of computer interaction on socialization, is currently the president of gaming computer company Psychsoftpc.

Lynch stated that the basis of people socializing through computer interaction rested on the observation that people responded to a computer in similar ways that they did to other people. “In many instances, they were more open since there was a feeling of anonymity in dealing with the computer, and that learning in a computer simulation environment transfers over to real life experience,” he adds.

The first step of gamification success is that people must be open to connecting with technology and use the computer experience afterward in practical application. Otherwise, the learning cannot take place.

With gamification taking hold in business, an infrastructure must be built to support it. Part of that foundation includes defining jobs within the industry and identifying the requisite knowledge and experience necessary for those positions.
According to Taylor, 70% of major employers use interactive software and games to train employees. Additionally, more than 75% of organizations not utilizing this technology said they are likely to offer it by next year.

While gamification in the workplace is continuing to evolve, it is expected to grow in popularity. This is because most of us have at some point been exposed to playing a video game, it’s almost certain that gamification will continue to expand beyond entertainment and improve the way we live, learn, work and play.

For more information see the article, “The Evolution of Gamification in the Workplace” by Sharlyn Lauby.

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