Chief Executive Officer at Code Power.
In 1958, William Higinbotham, a researcher at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, was facing a fun challenge. He had to find a way to make Brookhaven’s upcoming annual public exhibition, well, fun! A tall order if you ask me, especially because the laboratory was focused on developing peaceful uses of atomic power through clunky machines.
Yet, William had a magnificent idea. After finding out that the institute’s Donner Model 30 computer could calculate ballistic missile trajectories, he thought he could “gamify” the feature. The result? Tennis for Two—one of the first video games ever created, which caused a sensation during the exhibition.
Beyond Entertainment—Video Games As Tools
Of course, people loved Tennis for Two because of how entertaining it was, not as a feature showcase. However, many people have been revisiting Higinbotham’s original purpose—to use video games for something different.
Some of the current uses for video games that go beyond entertainment include:
Education: Video games can teach students various subjects and skills, from language learning to science and mathematics.
Rehabilitation: Physical and occupational therapies use video games to aid rehabilitation treatments.
Mental health: Video games can also help with psychotherapy treatments for anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions.
Research: Scientific research used video games to study human behavior and decision making.
Physical exercise: Some video games, such as “Wii Sports” and “Just Dance,” require physical movement and can serve as a form of exercise.
As you can see, video games allow organizations to tackle different problems through a new lens. It’s not a surprise, then, that businesses are also looking to leverage gaming for their own goals.
How Video Games Can Reshape Your Company
You might embrace games and virtual reality simulations to train your team members or use them as a new way to engage with your audience. However, there’s so much more video games can provide you.
I should point out here that I’m not just referring to the fact of using video games in your company. I’m also talking about gaming in general, from video game development to the gaming community at large. Sounds surprising? It actually isn’t.
As part of a company that was born out of the gaming industry, I know for a fact that video games and everything around them can teach you some really valuable lessons to rethink your company’s operations. Here are the most important ones.
Gamified Attitude And Elements
Games are all about creating something enjoyable. For that to happen, you need a playful spirit, storytelling abilities and a willingness to entertain. All of that amounts to a particular mindset you can foster in your teams, encouraging them to develop skills you can later use in your favor.
For instance, you use that mindset to “gamify” the projects on which you work. You can reimagine tasks as quests, provide rewards for teams that complete the most “missions” or even use the idea of “progress bars” to analyze a project’s evolution. The idea is to spring that playful spirit into action!
Game development often involves creating complex systems that work together seamlessly. From contemplating hardware requirements to orchestrating multiple technologies aiming for the highest performance possible, creating games isn’t precisely easy. But in there lies the lesson you can learn from gaming development teams.
Understanding how video game development works can help you see ways to deal with complexity in your own workflow. For instance, you can learn a lot about iterative design as engineers develop their video games through multiple testing and refinement instances. You can also understand how to better work collaboratively on complex projects from video game teams, as they often result from the teamwork of developers, artists, designers and other specialists pursuing a common goal.
The gaming industry is incredibly competitive, with high demands for quality and innovation. Video game development teams know how to work under pressure and deliver results that exceed the expectations of an insatiable audience. How do they do that? Through robust processes where feedback is key. You should imitate them!
Paying attention to your target audience is extremely important to enhance your brand’s experience. Playtesting, social media monitoring and in-game analytics are some of the techniques you can lift from the gaming world to gather that precious feedback. The best thing about them is that they work both for internal and external audiences, so you can improve your entire workflow using them.
Anyone who has been involved with video games in some capacity can tell you that, behind them, there are vibrant communities organized around common goals. From the development teams themselves to the esports squads in the most competitive leagues and beyond, video games inspire people to connect with each other in positive ways.
I suspect I don’t need to explain how important that can be for your operations. Inspired and motivated people are more productive and efficient and less likely to leave your company. And what better way to motivate and inspire them than having a common goal and sense of belonging? The playful spirit I’ve already mentioned is crucial to do this, as are the gamification elements you can introduce in your work. Corporate culture can (and should) be fun.
Acknowledging Gaming’s Value
People might have ignored William Higinbotham’s purpose back in the ’50s and just focused on the entertainment aspect of his game. However, I think he accomplished his mission. He showed the Donner Model 30’s possibilities through an exciting lens and got everyone interested in the machine.
That’s precisely what gaming can give you, as long as you’re willing to get past the entertainment part to dive right into how engineers imagine and build their games. Hopefully, the points I’ve shared above can help you reimagine your operations and instill a different vibe in your company.