Gaming Technology: A tool for productivity

Game-play technology helps raise engagement and productivity, making ‘gamification’ a popular new tool across many sectors.
Aaron Alan Tilley & Elizabeth Padilla |   September 2011   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION

from recruiting to training.

“We want to be the undisputed heavyweight in this new idea of bringing games into the business world in a way that actually improves performance,” says Olson.

Novel already has a partnership with the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington to develop enterprise simulations—games that increase individual performance and help businesses make better decisions. And he’s working with the heads of HR at Starbucks, Nike and Alaska Airlines on issues related to personnel assessment by having them play a Novel business simulation game.

To be successful at Novel’s game, users must display the collaborative and management skills they need in the real world. “The power of game technology is that we can predict reality,” says Olson. “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation,” he adds, quoting Plato. “You can ask someone if they are a team player… or you can put them in a situation and watch them.”

Many of the lessons learned from the simulations will be similar to those in the company’s multiplayer game, Empire & State, in which a player creates an avatar and sets out to colonize the planet Altea. Numerous traits required to be a good player in the game are traits prized among leaders, including good communications skills. Because the game allows players to make great progress in just 20 minutes, the mechanics are easily transferable to a corporate setting where time is scarce.

The product will be tested later this year by business students at the Foster School, says Bruce Avolio, executive director of the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking. The ultimate goal, notes Avolio, is to integrate elements of the game into the school’s curriculum.

To build the product, Olson has put together an impressive team that includes Toby Ragaini, vice president of Novel Studios, a former student of molecular biology and former vice president at Big Fish Games; creative director Mike Marr, who has degrees in computer science and biochemistry and has worked on strategy games like Powered Games’ Supreme Commander and Electronic Arts’ The Sims Online; and technical director Paul Furio, who was a lead software engineer at Playdom, where he worked on the Facebook game Social City. E.P.


A successful game offers…

Anticipation. A hint of some upcoming scene or development that keeps gamers playing.

Puppy Treats. Subtle rewards that direct players to progress

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