For some businesses loaning time to games proves profitable

(Image by David Wright on Flickr)

As a kid, the word “business” conjured images of ties and briefcases. It represented a stuffy world I did not want to loan my time to. I’d rather play a game.

But according to a recent New York Times article, people who think business and games don’t go together better think again. The pieces is called,”All the World’s a Game, and Business Is a Player” and appeared in the business section of the newspaper on Christmas Eve. The article begins,”Congratulations. Reading the first paragraph of this article has earned you a badge.” It goes on to detail the recent trend of turning every day activties into games thanks to smart phones and applications like Foursquare.

“Foursquare,” the writer explains, “[is] the social networking app that helped popularize the gamification idea, gives people virtual badges for checking in at a local cafe or restaurant.” There are also tools the use a digital rewards system to encourage subscribers to go to the gym or go green. Some businesses are using these games to motivate employees. One system ranks and rewards waiters at a given restaurant. Boston start-up Objective Logistics offers the restaurant service and plans to introduce “Karma Points” which will reward wait staff for taking on extra shifts at work.

The Times quotes Professor Kevin Werbach who teaches a course on games in business at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvanian. He says, “We have a tendency to be dismissive about games, but what we’re learning is that games in general are wonderfully powerful tools that can be applied in all sorts of serious contexts.”

The web version of the article, however, loans itself to the most interesting reading experience. There not only do commenters have the opportunity debate the expert opinions offered in the piece, but the article becomes an it’s own interactive game. Readers can earn badges for sharing the article with social media, for enlarging a photo or for eight other tasks.

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