Friday, May 13, 2011

Why Are We Better At Games Than At Real Life?

If We Played at Life With the Same Intensity as We Play Games - What Would Be Possible?

Last week Vivek Bhaskaran was a keynote presenter at the TMRE conference along with Kevin Keeker from Zynga (the creators of such epic online games as Farmville and Angry Birds).  And together they tackled the subject of why these games are so engaging and so all consuming and how to take advantage of these benefits in research.

But there is a bigger, more interesting tsunami of a trend that we are sitting on that many of us have noticed, but few have put into the context of productivty -- GAMING as a way to transform our world.

I spoke with Vivek a few days after his presentation and asked why he was so engrossed in gaming.  He told me that he had read this book Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal and it really got HIM thinking about how HE can change the world of business by harnessing some of the untapped energy and creativity that's currently being spent in virtual worlds.

First, Let's Look at Some FACTS that will BLOW YOU AWAY

  • 69% of all heads of household play computer and video games.

  • 97% of youth play computer and video games

  • In 2009 61% of surveyed CEOs, CFOs and other senior executives say they take daily game breaks at work.

Overall we invest 3 billion hours a week playing online games!  It's no wonder most people think it's a waste of time -- 3 billion hours a week dedicated to escaping reality.  Why spend 3 billion hours working something FAKE when we could be solving the problems of the world?

Why Games Are More Engaging Than Our Lives

Games are more engaging because we CHOOSE the activity of playing them.  They challenge our thinking, they give us immediate feedback as to how well we are doing and they reward us for our efforts.  And the big unsaid is that the real world holds serious consequences for failure and that strikes FEAR into most of our hearts and keeps us from taking risks which otherwise might really pay off.

What's Any of This Have to Do With Research?

It was research that uncovered these numbers that got Jane McGonigal asking these questions.   And it's a million curious minds put to task to uncover the myriad ways to engage people to share information, engage with our products and our brands and then glean a sense for how to improve it.

We've just been taking ourselves, our products and our work TOO SERIOUSLY.  I'm not saying to slack off - I'm challenging us to remove the layer of fear that has us playing it safe and open ourselves up to the possibilities that only become available to us when we play.
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