Gamification Advocates Try Really, Really Hard to Make Work Fun

Companies want to lighten up boring day jobs with productivity-boosting games, but only a few are reaching the next level.

According to Adam Penenberg, editor of the delightfully critical tech news outlet PandoDaily, the world is moving rapidly towards an Ender’s Game reality. Not in the sense that we’re on the verge of militarization after a space war with insect-like alien invaders, but in the sense that, like that novel’s titular protagonist, rather than flying planes or toting around boxes or writing TPS reports, one day we may do all of our work by proxy, playing complex computer game simulations that translate mouse clicks into anything from menial to complex labor.

That’s currently a far-off reality, but it is the long-term goal of a new movement in American business. Described in Penenberg’s 2013 Play at Work, this trend of gamification aims to use the science behind games to harness their addictive and competitive drive, reengaging the 70 percent of U.S. workers who describe themselves as bored and disconnected.

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