Recently, Byron and Leighton gave a keynote address at the LOGIN conference. Watch their speech about how businesses can and are using games to increase leadership and productivity among employees.
Have you watched Jesse Schell’s legendary DICE speech on the gamification of everyday life? If you haven’t, you should. And I mean really, all 28 minutes of it.
There are two main points that really hit home for me. The first because it deals with the thesis of Total Engagement (the Seriosity founders’ book on gaming in the corporate world), and the other because it is just so astounding. I’ll break them down below.
Point #1: Back to Reality. Schell points out that the recent major technological hits (WII, Farmville, Webkins, Guitar Hero) all have a few things in common. Paramount among these is the ability to break through to reality. Yes, these are games, but they all somehow bring us back to reality (WII=the physical body, Farmville=real friends on Facebook, Webkins=real stuffed animal, Guitar Hero= real guitar). This trend is also explored in the movie Avatar, for which we’ve already professed our admiration. Schell shows us that Avatar is all about how we can use technology to get back to nature—something ultimately real and genuine.
This is where the tie-in to serious gaming clicked for me. Employees can use games to cut through all of the corporate garbage that muddles up real achievement. Instead of PowerPoints and buzzwords, games allow people to focus on the task itself, and they are rewarded for doing so. By going virtual, real results are accomplished.
Point #2: Everything will be a game. Starting at about minute 21 of the video, Schell takes us through a day in the life of what he claims is the not so distant future. It’s absolutely riddled with games and bonus points and leveling up, and also full of advertisements for all of the companies that make these games possible. Just about when you’re sickened by the commercialization of it, he talks about how these games are making a living record of everything thing you do. For instance, your grandchildren will know every book you read because of the Kindle/Amazon game you played throughout your life. And then he brings up the ultimate question. Because of these games, and because of the everlasting record they create, will we make different choices and become better people? Or, could it drive unhealthy behavior, as we’ve talked about before?
What do you think?
- Byron is the Paul C. Edwards Professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, and Co-Founder and Faculty Co-Director of the H-STAR Institute and Media X.
- J. Leighton Read, M.D., is a General Partner in four Alloy Ventures funds from 2001-2007 and a successful entrepreneur and CEO.