How Playing Games is Good for Your Business

Last Updated May 22, 2011 11:38 PM EDT

If your reaction to gaming is akin to what your mom would have said when you were a teenager -- that games are a distraction, a productivity drain, and have no place in the business world -- then you are increasingly out of step with modern thinking about the role of games in enhancing productivity and business value. Indeed, there's a surprising amount of evidence that you can successfully incorporate gaming elements into the workplace to get more productivity from employees.

If you're new to the concept of "gamifying" work, then your first stop should be Tom Chatfield's recent TED Talk, in which he discusses how you can think about creating a rewards-based environment in the office that mimics the most successful elements of popular games.

But that's not all. As PC World's Bruce Gain recently discussed, many modern games can increase your multitasking skills, help you make decisions faster, and even collaborate more effectively in team environments. In fact, researchers in Current Biology recently concluded that action games improve something called probabilistic inference, which helps people draw conclusions and make decisions based on incomplete information.

IBM has done a study as well. Their report, Leaders in a Distributed World, suggests that online games such as MMORPGs teach gamers how to collaborate better in a work environment of connected users spread out around the world.

So how can you start to apply this to your own business? Check out Gamify, a company that is exploring ways to help you build gaming-like rewards systems and other gaming mechanics into your own Web services and applications. You can leverage tools like this to both engage customers and increase the productivity of your own employees. And what do you think of these kinds of strategies? Sound off in the comments.

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