by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
games, work


There's A Reason One Thing Is Called 'Work' And The Other Is Called 'Play'

from the hint:-they're-usually-not-the-same-thing dept

Back in early 2006, we first heard about Seriosity, a company that was trying to take the ideas in video games and apply them to enterprise software. It's the type of story that is intriguing... but is it actually working? It's hard to tell, but so far there isn't much evidence. The company keeps getting press, but there never seem to be any success stories -- just a focus on the concept and what a great idea it is. About the only thing that's come out of it so far is a silly idea to add fake currency to email that doesn't make much sense once you think it through. The NY Times wrote an article about them earlier this year as well, and after reading it, all you could think was that their ideas for making enterprise software fun... didn't sound particularly fun. Now the BBC is taking its shot at as well, with yet another article, again predicting that this could be a big business. Could be... yes. But, is it? So far, it doesn't seem like there's much traction as none of the articles seem to have much to go on. It seems like it's a good story for the press to write about, but most companies are much more concerned with overall productivity than making work seem "fun." If they're going to convince companies to sign up, there needs to be a bit more substance behind what the company seems to be pitching.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • identicon
    Danno, 24 Oct 2007 @ 6:20pm

    Maybe part of the problem is a mismatch between game types and work.

    It seems like they're trying to model action/adventure or strategy games where one of the key elements of gameplay is resource management.

    In the system that they're talking about with email, the problem is that email is already about managing your attention resources, so adding another resource management layer on top of that just makes it harder.

    What if, instead of resource management, they changed the paradigm to something more like a racing game? You let emails accumulate in your inbox for a while (permitting you to focus your attention on some actual work while you ignore the email pile) and then, after a while or a certain number of email messages, your mail software informs you that you can now perform an email race.

    The goal of the email race is to categorize or delete your emails so that you don't have anything just sitting left over in your inbox. Players get points for beating time goals and maybe these can be redeemed for lunch or something like that and the fastest email sprinter each month gets some sort of special prize.

    Now, I mean, obviously that would sort of have to be correlated with a corporate policy of Inbox Zero or another email management tactic and it's certainly prone to cheating if people really are hell bent on gaming the system. However, I think it's a decent example of the sort of extra gameplay rules that you could add to an otherwise mundane work task that could potentially lead to both higher employee efficiency (not getting distracted new messages every 5 minutes and trying to go through your email faster) and a little bit of fun.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Overcast, 24 Oct 2007 @ 8:53pm

    Sounds like more hassles, more overhead on company IT resources, more bugs. In the end more to break and more to slow you down.

    Thing is - not everyone likes the same game, or even to play games all day.

    So I like kill 100 annoying middle management goons and the server fixes itself? hmmm.. lol

    I think what makes games fun and makes work tedious aren't a matter of pretty graphics and zany sounds. I think it has a lot to do with freedom to choose what you are doing.

    Having to spend 'virtual cash' on emails would be downright annoying, I think.

    What it would really turn into with 'leader boards' isn't a separation of good players vs. bad players. Some will find ways to just work the leaderboard, they'll spend more time caressing their stats, then actually doing work. I know, because our ticketing system does this to a degree and I spend too much waisted time just caressing the numbers and not getting any real work done. Just like in video games - it's not always a matter of the best players being on top at all, they have just found ways to 'work the system', or specifically, in the case of games - just have the best tools for the job, making their numbers better, not really quantifying who's doing the best job or knows the game the best.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Oct 2007 @ 8:21am

    I think what makes games fun and makes work tedious aren't a matter of pretty graphics and zany sounds. I think it has a lot to do with freedom to choose what you are doing.
    Exactly! Perhaps if I was still loading trucks I could pretend I was playing Tetris (an analogy made more than once on the floor), but then I wouldn't be sitting at a computer, would I? When I play games I'm moving through a fantasy world with a specific goal. Whether it's to stop the falling blocks or save the princess, video games are an escape. I do occasionally play a restaurant sim, but even that is an idealized, simplified fantasy world. I can't see a way for that fantasy world to be correspond with real life tasks. That email race idea is pretty good, though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    slacker, 25 Oct 2007 @ 10:45am

    I prefer to think of work as a game...

    where I try to convince my employers I actually work 40 hours a week instead of 10.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.