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Work Sucks? Make it a Game.

Gaming Mechanics. The Gaming Layer. People have been talking about the increasing presence of gaming integration into the real world for years now. I first heard about gaming mechanics from Jane McGonigal (of Berkeley) in 2009, and more recently from Seth Priebatsch, founder of SCVNGR, in his keynote address on The Gaming Layer at SxSW 2011. But what is it? And is it a research-driven theory or a pop culture phenomena? Or something in between?

I haven’t quite decided on that, but this much is true: The idea is simple. People enjoy games. People enjoy games more than real life. So why not make life a game? Sounds a little cheesy, right? But when you think about it, you can see that many companies (Groupon, SCVNGR, Gowalla and Foursquare, to name a few) have found people’s inclination to turn life into a game enough of a trend to build highly successful businesses upon it. So what about work? Could work be a game? I found this infographic today on how to turn work into play and it made me think anew about gaming and where and when it has a place.

I guess in a nutshell, here’s what I think about it…
1) Why not make things more fun? This is Pollyanna talking, right? What could it hurt?

2) The fact that we have to turn everything into a game to avoid reality makes me a little sick of myself and my fellow American.

Clearly I’m on the fence. But what do you think? How would you “game” your workplace?

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