Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Working Post - Games in the Workplace: A New Wave of Employee Satisfaction

Games in the Workplace: A New Wave of Employee Satisfaction

Thesis: Gamification is an extension of existing efforts to boost employee satisfaction. If used well, it can help keep work interesting. If not used well, it will be a useless tacked on points system.

Preliminary Exploration: I've spent some time reading and analyzing James Paul Gee's book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy and comparing it to other books that discuss the value of games in learning. In a post about precursor domains I've explored how the transferrability of skills is essential in our quickly changing work environments. From here I've researched how gamification might benefit the workplace and boost employee satisfaction and looked for companies that are successfully implementing these sorts of tools.

a) As video games grow in popularity and availability, many are using games as a way to escape reality, as we see in Exodus to the Virtual World by Edward Castronova. We can choose to continue to escape real life or we can use games as a way to make real life more enjoyable, as theorized by Jane McGonigal in Reality is Broken.

b) There's a lot of buzz in the business world about gamification hows and whys. I think business managers and employees would also be interested to know how valuable this is in practice.

Format: I would like to target serious academia because there are already a lot of hype articles out there on managements. If we want to take a more realistic look at games in the workplace, I think this should be taken to an academic conference.

Outlet: I sort of snoozed on calls for papers and missed a lot of opportunities because many November deadlines have passed. However, I was able to find 

And a classmate, +Aleesha Bass posted a call for papers that lines up with my topic as well: CATaC Conference Call for Papers

I've also noticed that the gamification wiki is in its beginning stages and could use some articles and information. If I'm struggling with the traditional call for papers approach I may benefit from taking a wiki approach instead. There are little to no examples available on the wiki of successful businesses using gamification strategies. 

These calls for papers might also be a little beyond my abilities as a writer. They seem a little advanced for undergrad work. If I'm really articulate, though, and show that I'm serious about the material, I might have a shot. I'll have to keep an eye out for more local, basic ways to share my work as well. 

The more I think about it, the more I'm sort of daunted by the idea of submitting to serious academia and wondering how useful my paper will be at a conference in Norway. I'm emailing a few business journals in Utah to see if they accept guest articles. 

     a) I've found a lot of great books that talk about similar gamification theories and problems such as the books I've mentioned before from Jane McGonigal, Edward Castronova, and James Paul Gee. This has given me a good foundation for understanding what good can be done with gamification. 
     b) I've been collecting articles speculating about the use of gamification in the workplace - why it can be good, how it can be used poorly, and how many businesses are predicted to use these methods in the future. 
     c) I've thrown out some social lines on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and a Google community dedicated to gaming. I've also emailed some business professionals I hoped would be able to help me understand how gamification is being used to boost employee satisfaction. I've gotten some great responses and have plenty of material for a paper. 

Social Proof: I was surprised direct emailing sometimes flopped as a way of obtaining more social information. However, I received an email back from a professional at Qualtrics, which is a company that employs a lot of students in the area. I think obtaining and retaining students is a difficult task and if a company is successful, they might be able to clue us in on employee satisfaction. 

I was also directed to some helpful websites on Twitter and Linkedin. Linkedin was a little more personal and the responses were from business people who are working on some of the same problems, so this was a great tool for me. 

Facebook also came through for me in the end. I told my friends I was hitting a dead end and some of my gaming friends led me to more articles and companies to check out. 

Next Steps: Now I've got to go through some of these company suggestions and see where companies are having success. I need to articulate my thoughts in a way that will benefit those in business management who want to know if there's anything to be learned from gamification strategies. I also need to make sure I'm offering more than some of the basic "gamification is the new thing" articles that are already out there. 

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I can do this. John Tyler believes in me.