I recently listened to a TED talk by Jane McGonigal entitled “The game that can give you 10 extra years of life”. She is also the author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. In her TED talk she talks about all the benefits of playing games. I cannot do justice to the wealth of information in her talk, but I she does make the case that not all the time spent playing games is time we will regret not having done other things. She quotes the research out of BYU that shows that parents that play video games with their kids have better real relationships with them.
She shares how creating a game around her recovery from a severe head trauma helped her get through that challenge.
I really have mixed feelings about this topic. I really do like playing video and computer games (once I have moved up the learning curve a bit). I do find that it is easy for me to spend lots of time playing, like when Lode Runner came out on Macintosh (sp?) when I was in college, and I played all through the night. Even a few years ago, I would spend so long playing Civilization on the PC that my neck would freeze up in the position that I was holding it. My kids like when I play video games with them, but I need to considered it time with them, otherwise it seem like a wasteful luxury.
A closely related topic, is gamification, where you add game elements to traditionally non-game activities, like business processes at work. I just read an article about the benefits of gamification in the enterprise. It talked about things such as leader boards and badges, and I was pretty confused, but then I thought about Amazon.com and how you can earn “Top 1000 Reviewer” and other “badges” such as that. I do find myself checking to see how I rank in writing reviews on Amazon.com. I have heard that posting rankings can backfire with some people, but it does also bring out the competitive spirit as well. Some parents can be adept at turning chores into games.
I notice now that there are a good number of web sites around the gamification topic, such as http://www.gamification.co/, http://gamifyforthewin.com/, as well as a Course on Gamification that started last month on Coursera.com.
What areas can you think of that could benefit from gamification?