When I worked in Agencyland, games were part of my everyday working life. I spent a great deal of time working elements of game play into the strategies that I was developing for clients, coming up with ideas for new, short, casual games and working with my team of developers responsible for turning these ideas into games that kids would love.
The first person that I hired into my team was Terry Paton – and I learned a great deal about games, game design and user interaction from him. He had a deep love of games and would constantly look for ways to improve the gaming experience. His approach was to make games that were simple to play but difficult to master – and it was an approach which we would learn to apply to almost every aspect of our work – from web and premium design right through to communications strategy.
For a couple of years, we focused on the idea of “play” – of what would capture, engage and stimulate the people coming to the websites that we would produce. We thought long and hard about what worked, we tested ways to surprise and delight and we relentlessly measured “plays”, high scores and ratings, pass-ons, level achievement and “time in game”.
We essentially focused on behaviours that rewarded the player. And, in turn, those players rewarded us with their time, attention and competitiveness. It was a win-win (oh and a win for the brand too!).
But there was something in the nature of play that fascinated me, even though I had moved out of the B2C space. It seemed obvious that the B2B world sorely needed a jolt – and play seemed the answer. So, a couple of years ago I started (but never finished) a series on the future of your brand – and the first future that I saw was “play” – power, learning, adventure and the “yelp” of delight.
Recently, I read Aaron Dignan’s Game Frame: Using Games as a Strategy for Success, and found a thorough investigation into the nature of play and how it can be (and is being) incorporated into our working lives. While it is easy to think that this book is about engaging Gen Y in the workplace, to do so would be to undersell it. The lessons and explanations apply universally. This isn’t a book for a new generation, it’s a book for anyone who is seeking to motivate and engage others. And because it applies principles that we already understand (gaming) to the world of business, it frames work in a completely new way.
Imagine … just imagine that your employees didn’t say “I’m going to work” – but said instead, “I’m getting my game on”. Now, that would really change the game!
Oh, and if you want to learn more about Aaron’s approach – check out this video of his recent speech – Why the Future of Work is Play. I couldn’t agree more.