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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Total Engagement via Games

Although published late last year, this book was recently brought to my attention: Total Engagement: Using Games and Virtual Worlds to Change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete by Byron Reeves and J. Leighton. The book's site is here, and there are also a number of book excerpts. The Amazon site also has a 'look inside' link.

Serious Games have been a long-time interest of mine. Have been reading Total Engagement for several days now in a borrowed North Georgia mountain cabin. (Thanks Sammy). Think about any job as a game, often a very badly designed game. If it were designed to be engaging, collaborative and very efficient at its goal (say making money or helping people) it could not only do a better job at its goal, but also engage, entertain and make the people working at the 'job' happier. Its funny, but there are many examples of engaging multi-player games that are played by millions of people world-wide. Why not use them for real jobs?

There is a real gem of value in this book. I know lots of people that may see any games as non-serious by definition, but it is exactly that assumption that keeps us from solving many problems efficiently.

The authors include a number of examples of potential serious games from their interviews with companies, including my former enterprise, which did have a reputation for being less creative in this regard. There are corporate problems that games might solve, as one chapter suggests. It is still not an easy thing to do, but this book outlines how to start. Bravo ... this books lays out the direction for any company to use games as a problem-solving tool.

We connected with Byron Reeves at Stanford a number of times and reviewed his Seriosity work, which also has a blog. And is active on Twitter. Some of Byron Reeves ideas were also inspirational for our early online consumer advisory work. Also see the Serious Games Twitter Stream.

I will continue to follow up with additional thoughts derived from this book.

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