World of Warcraft and the art of business gamification

Gamification. I’ve been a gamer since I was small and pestered my poor folks for an Atari 2600. 30 years on and I’m still playing. So I find it funny sometimes when I read on the next thing to hit business because I can guarantee half of those writing about it don’t play, haven’t played in years or have never played. A quick blast or mention of Farmville is enough to get attention these days but you really have to understand the mechanics and mindset of both the game and the gamer to unlock how much potential this really could have. I keep mentioning the Cabal Process and how Valve Software structured their teams (article), and have said previously to look to other industries for direction and innovation.

I’m reading a fascinating book called “Reality is broken“, by Jane McGonigal and the parallels between gaming and business are far reaching. It’s more than just rewarding points and badges, it’s involvement and direct social connectivity (and what is later coined as ‘ambient sociability’ by Jane), continuous feedback and appraisal. It’s making sure that what we do in business has a clear objective and steps to reach that goal. That the intrinsic satisfaction of completing a set of tasks (or process steps) to achieve the (internal and external customer based) outcome has far greater power than just the (not so) almighty dollar.

I would say read the first six chapters and understand the concepts within, then look at how your Social strategy stacks up against it. One of the more interesting topics (technically) touched on is ‘Phasing’ which happens in WoW, where each player is shown a different view of the world depending on their own accomplishments. Perhaps this is something that could/ should translate into business context a lot more, and in Social Software, visibly seeing the impact of your work and how it affects the organisation around you. And I don’t mean BAM (Business Activity Monitoring) and MI reports. Please think a little more abstract when you apply social context to these tired concepts.

Do we split the social enterprise to Hardcore and Casual streams ?

Casual processes, ones that offer one off hits, quick and dirty customer fulfilment ?
Hardcore processes that take longer and more effort but the rewards are more visible and longer lasting ?
Food for thought if you’re looking to explore gamification beyond just ‘business games for innovation’

As Jane puts it “The best-designed game work feels more productive because it feels more real: the feedback comes stronger and faster, and the impact is more visual and vivid……gameful work is a real source of reward and satisfaction.”

Gamification. It’s the latest darling buzzword of 2011 and it’s coming to a business near you soon. But when you look for advice, ask the most important question first:

Do you play ?…..


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