INNOVATION: Engage Your Team Through Gaming, with Jane McGonigal

Why are video gamers so obsessed? Because playing gives people a sense of purpose, and winning them makes them feel heroic. "There’s this kind of transfer of our confidence, of our creativity, of our ambition" from game-playing "to our real lives" says game designer Jane McGonigal. And there are organizational benefits as well: studies have shown that we’re more likely to cooperate with someone in our real lives after we’ve played a social game with them that involves a cooperative mission. In this lesson from Big Think Edge, McGonigal walks you through the ways in which gaming can lead to positive outcomes in the workplace. By the end of it, you may just want to integrate gaming into your break space design or your next corporate retreat!

Research shows that gaming can have positive social, emotional and psychological benefits.

There’s been some fascinating research to suggest that when we play games and we tap into positive emotions like curiosity and optimism and creativity, and even love, that these emotions actually stay with us for up to 24 hours after we finish playing the game. So studies have shown that we’re more likely to cooperate with someone in our real lives after we’ve played a social game with them where we’re doing some kind of cooperative mission. Or we’re more likely to set an ambitious goal for ourselves after we’ve succeeded in a game. We’ll speak up more for ourselves. We’ll even flirt with more attractive strangers. So there’s this kind of transfer of our confidence, of our creativity, of our ambition to our real lives.

Engage your team in gaming to boost productivity and promote healthy working relationships.

We have this idea that playing games is kind of a waste of time. That it’s not a very productive way to spend our time. And I kept hearing that even as I was evangelizing all of the benefits of gaming – the emotional benefits, the social, the psychological benefits. People kept saying, “Yeah, but it’s just a waste of time. Shouldn’t we be doing something more productive than avenging some Angry Birds?” And it really made me wonder, “Well, what do we mean by productive"?

Productivity is about producing something. What do we really want to produce more of in our lives and in the lives of the people around us? Are we trying to produce more emails, or are we trying to produce more positive emotion? Are we trying to produce stronger relationships? Are we trying to produce a sense of meaning and purpose? And it turns out that games are actually quite good at producing those things. That’s what they produce more of and better than almost anything else.

So when people say, “Games are a waste of time and not productive,” I would challenge them to ask themselves, “What do you want to produce more of?” And if it’s things like better relationships and more positive emotion in my daily life, then games might be the most productive thing you can do.

 

In this lesson from Big Think Edge, game designer Jane McGonigal walks you through the ways in which gaming can lead to positive outcomes in the workplace.

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