As Mary Poppins would say, 'The Job's a Game'…

Last year, when I was doing the IPA Excellence Diploma, I wrote an essay on the use of real time data to create daily, game-like interactions.  

You can read it here, if you’re off the mind to…

A Spoonful of EasyJet

Ever since writing it, I’ve been particularly interested in creating work systems that incorporate elements of games.

Because as the principle behind ‘spoonful of sugar’ would have it, if you add an element of fun to a job, the job becomes a game.  And we’d all like it a lot more if our jobs were a bit more like games, yeah?

So I was very excited to find out about this forthcoming book…

Total Engagement
Using Games and Virtual Worlds to change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete 



Of course, I can’t tell you owt about it, as I’ve only just ordered it from Amazon.  But the blurb certainly sells it to me…

“Implementing components of multiplayer computer games in the workplace will address a host of age-old problems. Games can not only stem boredom and decrease turnover, but also enhance collaboration and encourage creative leadership. Games require extraordinary teamwork, elaborate data analysis and strategy, recruitment and retention of top players, and quick decision making.

Recreating some elements of games – such as positioning tasks within stories, creating internal economies, and implementing participant-driven communication systems – can not only boost employee engagement but overall productivity.”

Sounds really interesting, doesn’t it?  I’m very much looking forward to reading it

(thanks to the tip off from the guys at Natron Baxter, an Applied Gaming outfit over there in that there USofA…)

Anyhoo, I think that it appeals so much because, as kids, my brother and I were big fans of ‘God Games’ like Civilisation, Populous et al, and like most blokes my age I’ve lost days to Championship Manager. 



If you’re not familiar with the principles of such games, they are based upon an absolute mountain of data… with tens, hundreds or thousands of different characters, units and the like all needing your care and attention on a turn by turn basis. 

You’ve got a set objective at the end, of course, but the only way to win the game is to set that big objective aside, and deal with the game on a turn-by-turn basis.

So whilst your overall big strategy is there, it’s actually much more important to continually pay attention to the thousands of smaller tactical decisions. 

The big strategy is as simple as ‘win the space race’ or ‘defeat the other competitors’.  The methods you use to do that constantly change and evolve depending on the circumstances…

Is it possible to do it for companies?  Well, I believe so already… let’s see what interesting examples and ideas the book brings when it arrives next week.


Guardian Activate Redux: Werner Vogels (Amazon)

I liveblogged the Guardian Activate Conference in July.  Now that the videos of the speeches are online, it’s a good time to revisit some of my favourite things from the day… I’ll post up one video every few days or so…

Werner Vogels, Amazon – “Your worst nightmare on the web… you throw a party, and a MILLION people come… how do you cope with that?”

The area of cloud computing is increasingly fascinating… people are creating things around computers that they may need a phenomenal amount of storage space and processing power… but only for a brief period of time.

For instance, the Google Monopoly game which launched over the last week needed a lot more server power than they expected it to… and as such crashed on and off for about a week.  They’ve just had to restart the whole thing all over again today…


I found Werner’s talk huge interesting, because of the comparison he draws between computing nowadays, and electricity in days of yore.

Companies in those days needed electricity to do whatever it is that they made money from.

Werner’s example is a brewer in Belgium, but we have our very own relic of this age in the Gym breakout area in our building…


(It’s a particularly rare example controlled by table football…)

Think how mad it would be nowadays to run your own generator for a resource that comes out the wall, on tap, whenever you want it.

That’s essentially the proposition for ‘cloud computing’… computing that becomes a resource to be scaled when needed, and switched off when it’s not.

It touches on a previous post about working spaces I wrote a while ago… when computing becomes as free and easy as electricity to access, it’ll be interesting to see how we all work together.


Work: a verb, and a noun

This occurred after something Amelia said the other day:

the irony of having to leave work in order to actually *do* some work is not lost on me”

Sound familiar?  Nowadays, work is a noun and a verb…


…and the two don’t always combine to great effect…

…but then, given the way technology is changing the way we work, I find it very interesting to think about what the future of ‘work’ (the noun) could look like.  And, indeed, when we might get there… ]]>