Practical Gaming

I was a fan of the idea of using games for practical purposes, long before I heard Jane McGonigle’s classic TED talk on the subject, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recommend strongly that you watch it. I have long believed that “all other things being equal, people respond as well or better when they’re having fun than when they aren’t” and fun and games (and humor) tend to go together.

Think back, way back and you might share one of my earliest memories of this toy scale, that was widely used to teach addition and subtraction. What is one of your first memories of using games and toys to learn something practical? Even the E-Z Bake Oven fits the description, I would argue.

But as I said, a few years pre-Jane, I had already begun experimenting with the use of online games to deliver counseling services in a fun and practical (particularly in rural areas) ways. Other multiplayer gaming-based purposes include pain management systems, training simulations, and many more.

Gamification, or the introduction of elements that are common to game play – things like competition, point tallies, trophies, badges or other recognition isn’t a new concept either. Anyone who has ever been in a sales position – be it automobiles, appliances, or insurance – is familiar with sales scoreboards and “win a weekend trip” promotions. But things are much more sophisticated and interesting now.

Introducing game elements, especially fun ones, can help businesses in a variety of areas, like recruiting great talent, corporate wellness programs, and nonprofit fundraising. Even the Harvard Business Review agrees that strategy games can be used to help solve real world business dilemmas. And you don’t have to be a large concern to utilize gamification strategies, they work for small business too!

I’m not sure where along the way we decided that “Work” is the opposite of “Play” but I am sure that the distinction is not nearly so obvious as it once might have been. Have fun!