Harnessing games and virtual worlds for productivity's sake

warcraft.pngSo it seems that games, virtual worlds and social networking sites are becoming entrenched in the way we live and work. No surprise to us geeks, of course. But it seems that some organisations are looking more deeply into how employees interact with these digital worlds, to see how they might harness these behaviours for good.

The BBC published a really interesting feature looking at this trend, and quotes Ian Hughes, IBM's metaverse evangelist, as saying that many organisations were considering ways of harnessing the skills and familiarity their employees have with virtual environments.

"This familiarity has driven many organisations to consider virtual worlds as places where employees can meet, mix and get on with the job."

This isn't pie in the sky stuff, it's happening right now - Tech Crunch's Duncan Riley blogged about a recent meeting in Second Life, for example.

The BBC article also talks about a company called Seriosity which is working with businesses to harness game mechanics for the office - for example it came up with a virtual currency for use with emails. Given a limited amount of these Serios, users had to 'budget' the amount of emails they sent and which ones they ranked as important - a tool for minimising information overload and helping prioritise work.

And it's not just productivity in the workplace that can benefit either - CNET reported on a new 'world of Chorecraft' game which I think is an ingenious way of harnessing people's innate love of 'levelling up' in MMOs to get them to excel at housework. Chore Wars gives users experience points for various household chores, which can be used to advance your profile in the online game. This could be a great tool for parents or competitive gamer geek sharehouses. ;)

So is your workplace or household using any social networking, virtual world or gaming tools to be more productive? Do you think there are productivity gains to be made, or is it a geeky daydream?  Let us know in comments.

When Work Becomes a Game [BBC News]

'Chore Wars,' where 'World of Warcraft' meets toilet cleaner [CNET]


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