No longer taboo in workplace, games tap creativity
GAME PLAN: James R. Lavoie, Rite-Solutions CEO, shows off a game product used by mining companies to train employees to deal with emergencies.
PBN PHOTO/BRIAN MCDONALD
By Emily Greenhalgh PBN Web Editor
With Facebook a household name and more than 1 billion worldwide downloads of the “Angry Birds” franchise, it’s easy to see why companies like Middletown-based information technology firm Rite-Solutions Inc. are trying to figure out how to use gaming as a means to better motivate employees and serve clients.
At Rite-Solutions, CEO James R. Lavoie has helped bring gaming into the workplace with “Mutual Fun,” a stock market-inspired game that allows employees to make “intellectual capital investments” about the future of the company the way they would make financial investments on the stock market.
Every employee at Rite-Solutions is given $10,000 of fake “investment money” as a way to represent their intellectual investments in different indices, including: emerging technologies, products and services in line with current company offerings, and cost-saving initiatives. “The hope is once they put their money there, they now have an interest in raising the price of that stock,” said Lavoie.
The game is an example of “gamification” – the use of game mechanics, elements and techniques into a nongame setting – in order to engage users and solve problems.
“Games fill an innate human need to overcome challenges and face obstacles,” said Jose Esteves, professor at the IE Brown Executive MBA, a collaborative program between the Madrid-based Instituto de Empressa Business School and Brown University. In his Dec. 5 lecture “The Art of Enterprise Gamification,” at Brown, Esteves explained how social gaming and gamification techniques are being used successfully by companies around the globe.
According to Esteves, who calls gamification a “social phenomenon,” 69 percent of all heads of households regularly play some sort of game, as do 97 percent of all children. It benefits companies to tap into that resource in order to engage users. “Just because we don’t game doesn’t mean our employees, suppliers and customers are not doing it,” said Esteves.
In a 2011 report, Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner Inc. predicts that by 2014, roughly 70 percent of the world’s top 2,000 public companies will have at least one gamified application. Although Gartner said the current growth of gamification is “largely driven by novelty and hype,” the firm predicts it will continue as a highly significant trend over the next five years.