Gaming and the enterprise: Managing the risks

Security, handling virtual currency and intellectual property are all considerations.

Gaming for the enterprise (or gamification) has lately been making the rounds in CXO circles. For those not already familiar with the concept, "gamification" means incorporating games and game mechanics into non-game activities; in other words, making something that is not inherently a game -- such as a marketing campaign or employee training -- feel like a game.

Effective gamifying is far more nuanced and complex than just adding features to an existing non-game, but it includes making the non-game feel like a game by incorporating challenges to be overcome, giving points or other virtual goods to users as a means of promoting desired user behavior, providing awards and levels reached based upon a user's success and showing rankings or leaderboards that allow users to compare their performance to that of others.

Gaming in Corporate America

Game mechanics are effective behavioral change agents because they satisfy basic human desires for reward, status, achievement, self-expression and competition. (For an excellent source on this, read Total Engagement: Using Games and Virtual Worlds to Change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete by Byron Reeves and J. Leighton Read.)

In short, games are for real.

Some executives are perplexed by the gamification hype; they would rather see customers and employees spend the time they waste playing games buying and working (respectively). While not surprising, such responses ignore the reasons for the move towards gamification, and its potential value to enterprises.

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