Work Could be More Funner

Pacman ftw!At Web 2.0 Expo about a month ago, Rich, Paul and I all attended a fascinating session called “Children of Flickr: Making the Massively Multiplayer Social Web“. Aside from being interesting, it reenergized me on my quest to make work more fun.

Then, daily operational stuff intervened. I managed to rush some thoughts onto virtual paper, but I haven’t had the luxury to think deeply on the topic.

A few recent nuggets have reminded me. First, PMOG launched. I love the idea; install the toolbar and do your normal surfing. The game happens around your normal activity and is perfect for people like me who spend a lot of time driving on the “information superhighway”. I am skeptical about what they plan to do with all the browsing data, but after combing the privacy and terms, it seems pretty benign, at least for now.

Second, our friends at TalentedApps posted a missive about gaming and engagement. Engagement is a hot topic in this era of job-hopping; employees realize work is a commodity that can be sold to the highest bidder. For employers, finding ways to retain employees, especially in the face of economic uncertainty, is increasingly key.

And third, I discovered the person with the absolute coolest avatar (collection) on Connect just so happens to be into game mechanic and design. Sweet, it’s always good to wrap another head around a complex problem. We’ve kicked this around the ‘Lab for a year, so a new viewpoint is welcome.

One of our initial goals with Connect was to bring a trusted social network and ultimately social platform inside the firewall where we could experiment (this is supposed to be a lab, remember) with new stuff, like adding game mechanics or otherwise fun stuff like predictive markets. We all like the application of gaming to work as an area for experimentation because it’s a challenge with a potentially great reward.

I’m not talking about games. I’m talking about making work tasks more fun, not an easy row to hoe. Mention gaming and you’ll get blank stares. Most people want work to be work and fun to be fun. And no overlap thanks very much.

But people love games, all kinds of games (board, video, outdoor, indoor, etc.), so I say why not mix the two and see if something good happens, spice up the workday a bit.

We have to be careful to avoid making something too addictive that might negatively impact productivity, but we need something fun and engaging that isn’t just glitter.

Any thoughts? Sound off in comments.




  1. Years and years ago, I was at work one day when I said that I would “play” with something; I got some negative stares for that one…

    Perhaps making work “fun” is too high of a goal. We could start by making work less painful.

  2. Purely by coincidence, I suppose this was a little bit related to the comment/suggestion I made about creating a virtual slot machine to randomize OOW suggestions so that the middle ones got fair screen time. I remember saying, I wouldn't just sit and look at random data, but if you put it in a slot machine game, I'd play that for a while (and also read the contents). Maybe not exactly the same idea, but certainly related to your gaming + work = funner work theory, right?

  3. Ha, good story. I held off on rambling on about Gen Y people entering the workforce, expecting more from work because I've beat that drum before, but here it goes again 🙂

  4. Totally right, and I wish we had the Flex/Flash chops to do that type of idea viewer now. Rich may get there soon, but I doubt it would be before the voting deadline. We may use that for internal ideas, maybe call it the 'One-armed Norris' or something.

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