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Are You Game?

Gaming racks up points as the work model of the future.

Some government agencies and companies are kicking around the idea of turning the desktop into a game where employees interact in a game format all day. "There's a lot of interest in games and work being one and the same," says Ben Sawyer, co-director of The Serious Game Initiative, an organization that studies how electronic games can be used at work.

The graphical user interface-as-game idea appeals to the military, which has a young, mostly male work force. Microsoft is considering incorporating video games into its development process, and IBM is interested in virtual work-related issues. "People are starting to understand that [play is] not divorced from work," says Chuck Hamilton, who manages learning strategy at IBM Canada's Innovation Center.

Video-gaming on the job makes sense to John Beck, co-author of The Kids Are Alright. Video games "are played at such a young age that the brain's neuropathways are being formed around game logic," Beck says. He sees room for everything from desktop finance and accounting to sales games.

Corporate America is perfecting the art of real-time data delivery and thinking about the next step: perfecting the art of real-time work flow. Still, many seasoned corporate executives don't like the idea. "Game sounds frivolous. The term gets resistance," Beck says. "That [older] generation may have to move on before this really takes hold."

Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog, Workplacediva.blogspot.com.

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This article was originally published in the August 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Are You Game? .

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