The image of today’s teen sitting on the floor in the basement, lost in a video-game haze, has gone beyond cliché status. However, that cliché does not allow for the talent and potential that may lie within these gamers. So how do you get it out?


Gamification in the workplace


OK, let us back up. Gamification, according to co-founder and CEO of Gravity Media’s Yuriy Boykiv, is the use of “well-constructed games to engage audiences on an emotional level.” In an article on, Boykiv wrote, “gamification is the application of game theory and mechanics to non-game environments. Schools, hospitals, and companies are eagerly adopting the gaming concepts of competition, rewards, status, achievement, socialization, and learning to create deeper engagement with their target audiences.”


A trend has already played a part in the lives of today’s current and recent students. According to technology website, video games play a key role in the field of education, particularly with classroom-centric versions of popular games. MinecraftEdu, an educational version of the popular Minecraft, puts an emphasis on cooperation and empathy while SimCityEDU focuses on building and sustaining communities, like its mainstream counterpart. The educational version adds layers about environmental impact, population trends, and other real-life societal issues. While the use of gaming is not a huge part of today’s workplace, it is only a matter of time considering the habits of current and future employees.


All about the feels


In a recent story in The Guardian, Robin Hunicke, co-founder and creative director of software company Funomena, said gaming designers and engineers now focus on “feel engineering,” which she described as “the process by which you create a game backwards from the feeling you want to create in a person forward towards the mechanics and the dynamics of the game itself.”


Sounds like heady stuff, especially for the workplace, but Hunicke likened it to designing a game based on that feeling one might get when winning a board game with a group of friends. In a workplace application, that feeling might accompany the sale of a product or the rendering of a service, which is then factored into the design of the game. Employees may be able to work through the various obstacles and challenges of a sales call or a large-scale project before accomplishing their goal, learning valuable strategies and experiences that will help them in the non-virtual world.


Gaming at work


In a story for, Jeanne Meister, co-author of “The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today” and partner at Future Workplace, a New-York-based advisory firm, outlined three ways companies can use gaming to help train millennials and keep employees engaged at the office:


  1. Think strategy first: Identify and articulate specific business objectives you are trying to achieve with gamification.
  2. Understand what motivates your employees: Identifying their intrinsic motivations can help a company fulfill its business goals.
  3. Engage employees emotionally: Gamification engages employees at a core emotional level. Employees who play games about safety, productivity or teamwork, among others, are more likely to make a connection to those concepts and discuss them with their co-workers during the workday.