Adam Penenberg's new book, Play At Work, reveals how big companies are increasingly using gaming technology to gain a competitive edge.
By Caroline Fairchild
"In fact, harnessing the power of games can tackle problems even larger than worker productivity and engagement. Penenberg writes about the multiplayer online game Foldit that was created to advance science and solve real-world problems. As a result of the highly interactive game, a self-described "lowly lab technician" and her team discovered in 10 days the key to a protein-cutting enzyme from an AIDS-like virus in rhesus monkeys -- a problem that eluded scientists for more than 10 years
"Ultimately, writes Penenberg, when roughly 97% of 12-to-17-year-olds play computer games and some 70% of the heads of American households admit to being gamers, games are simply too popular and too effective for companies not to incorporate them into the daily lives of their workers. By next year, research firm Gartner projects that 70% of 2,000 global organizations will use gamified applications for training, health care, marketing, and employee performance.
"Toward the end of the book, the author posits that in the future companies very well may turn an entire job into a game. He outlines an example of a call-center employee named Jennifer who works from home. She logs in every day to a pirate ship computer game along with several co-workers on her team. Jennifer's team is competing against other teams, and as she successfully answers calls her team's virtual ship moves closer to an island. The first group of employees to get to the island is rewarded with a real prize like free holiday travel. Jennifer is not only motivated, but the game gives her a sense of accomplishment and community."