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Total Engagement: How Games and Virtual Worlds Are Changing the Way People Work and Businesses Compete

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Can the workplace be more productive by including avatars, three-dimensional environments, and participant-driven outcomes? This grounded and thought-provoking book by Byron Reeves and Leighton Read proves that it is not only possible, it is inevitable. Implementing components of multiplayer computer games in the workplace will address a host of age-old problems. Games can Can the workplace be more productive by including avatars, three-dimensional environments, and participant-driven outcomes? This grounded and thought-provoking book by Byron Reeves and Leighton Read proves that it is not only possible, it is inevitable. Implementing components of multiplayer computer games in the workplace will address a host of age-old problems. Games can not only stem boredom and decrease turnover, but also enhancee collaboration and encourage creative leadership. Games require extraordinary teamwork, elaborate data analysis and strategy, recruitment and retention of top players, and quick decision making. Recreating some elements of games - such as positioning tasks within stories, creating internal economies, and implementing participant-driven communication systems - can not only boost employee engagement but overall productivity. Of course, the strong psychological power of games can have both positive and negative consequences for the workplace. That's why it's important to put them into practice correctly from the beginning - and Reeves and Read explain how by showing which good design principles are a powerful antidote to the addictive and stress-inducing potential of games. Supported by specific case studies and years of research, Total Engagement will completely change the way you view both work and play.


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Can the workplace be more productive by including avatars, three-dimensional environments, and participant-driven outcomes? This grounded and thought-provoking book by Byron Reeves and Leighton Read proves that it is not only possible, it is inevitable. Implementing components of multiplayer computer games in the workplace will address a host of age-old problems. Games can Can the workplace be more productive by including avatars, three-dimensional environments, and participant-driven outcomes? This grounded and thought-provoking book by Byron Reeves and Leighton Read proves that it is not only possible, it is inevitable. Implementing components of multiplayer computer games in the workplace will address a host of age-old problems. Games can not only stem boredom and decrease turnover, but also enhancee collaboration and encourage creative leadership. Games require extraordinary teamwork, elaborate data analysis and strategy, recruitment and retention of top players, and quick decision making. Recreating some elements of games - such as positioning tasks within stories, creating internal economies, and implementing participant-driven communication systems - can not only boost employee engagement but overall productivity. Of course, the strong psychological power of games can have both positive and negative consequences for the workplace. That's why it's important to put them into practice correctly from the beginning - and Reeves and Read explain how by showing which good design principles are a powerful antidote to the addictive and stress-inducing potential of games. Supported by specific case studies and years of research, Total Engagement will completely change the way you view both work and play.

30 review for Total Engagement: How Games and Virtual Worlds Are Changing the Way People Work and Businesses Compete

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tim Chang

    a good initial stab at legitimizing the emerging field of Gamification -- primarily using analogies from MMOs like World of Warcraft to draw parallels and potential applications of guild management systems for employee gamification, incentive design and performance reviews in corporate contexts. Here are my notes and key takeaways: What is "Work"? 1) Details: types of Work evolving over history -transformational: old-school work of extracting raw materials & converting into finished goods; declinin a good initial stab at legitimizing the emerging field of Gamification -- primarily using analogies from MMOs like World of Warcraft to draw parallels and potential applications of guild management systems for employee gamification, incentive design and performance reviews in corporate contexts. Here are my notes and key takeaways: What is "Work"? 1) Details: types of Work evolving over history -transformational: old-school work of extracting raw materials & converting into finished goods; declining and only 15% US workforce due to mechanization & offshoring -transactional: people interacting with people in fairly routine ways according to rules that can get automated -tacit: ambiguous tasks that require tacit, experiential knowledge - hard for machines to replace. Increasing % of workforce, with people as main assets with networks, reputations, knowledge that can leave! You don't command tacit workers but create conditions to allow them to innovate, collaborate, communicate -- effectiveness vs efficiency 2) Context: drivers of human performance -purpose: larger narrative behind the work along vector of aspiration & accomplishment -meaning -consequence Structual impediments? Hierarchies and silos less effective than looser hierachies -- like neural plasticity in the brain where neurons can connect, reconnect and adapt. Game designs allow for complex evolving networks of player behavior. Work can be too easy (task = job; boring, tedious, repetitive) -- games can improve by adding levels of complexity and aspiration over longer time scales Work can be too hard (goals in conflict or difficult to define: learning curve too steep, or success takes too long; too many interruptions or info overload) -- games can make goals and feedback clearer, break down learning curve into smaller steps, provide right pacing and multiple avenues to win according to player style Parallels between "work" and "play" -- Most gaming tasks and work tasks have parallels - useful to map analogies to help add game elements to work 10 Elements of Great Games: 1) Self representation with avatars -easy to use, representing people -represent expertise via attributes & appearance -increase engagement -social and emotional motifs 2) 3D environments -intuitive -easy to navigate & explore 3) Narrative Context: good backstory appeal to people naturally -stories engage human thinking, emotions, social interaction -narratives tell players what to do and how they fit in -increases excitement and attention -stories influence memory & make it easier to remember info when presented in narrative format: memory = semantic vs episodic; people process semantic info based on meaning (in relation to other things with similar meaning). Episodic memories often easier to build and use 4) Feedback -changes behavior: feedback sought by anyone wanting to advance -short/mid/lonterm feedback loops -break down behaviors into smaller pieces: games within games, layers, side quests, mini-games -extrinsic vs intrinsic rewards: feelings of accomplishment and gratification from within are important for sustained long-term behavior change -self-efficacy: gamers believe that they can succeed and eventually get it right -- feeling of being in control. Also created by watching others do and succeed -feedback for multiple sense 5) Reputation, Ranks, Levels -reputations are persistent and transparent: relevant data is prominent in the interface, with extensive metadata everywhere -reputational markers are important: players can author their own reputation seen by others -continuous reputational updates: realtime with automated tracking by system -reputational info is trusted (and hard to to cheat or game) -accelerate social interaction: basics and common ground are seen immediately -explicitness of reputation 6) Marketplace and Economies -virtual currencies work like real money: economic principles apply, with scarcity effects, etc -social micropayments: gifts, tips, motivation for recognition, etc -enable scorekeeping -facilitate meritocracies -align personal and group goals 7) Competition Under Rules that are expliciy and enforced: allow players to trust the game, with level playing field -develop internal sense of control -clear meaning of "win" -player generated rules and emergent behaviors 8) Teams -team identification is primal to people -"I when when we win" -social relationships extend beyond game -virtual interactions but real people affiliations -encouraging community 9) Parallel Communication Systems that can easily Reconfigured -numerous communication options -public and private communication -proximity-based ("watercooler") control of communication -communicate easily with those you don't know 10) Time Pressure: multiplayer game= collaborative achievement under uncertain winning conditions -- fun to try to beat the clock! -clocks create excitement -allow for quick changes in strategy Avatars: -allow people to shape desired/aspirational self, which they invest in, and can make immediate changes, try different personas (ex: normally shy people). People become emotionally invested in their "mini me" - almost like a child or pet self? - mirror neurons: what happens on screen triggers same brain responses as if happening in real life. Attachment to their characters creates deeper engagement. Activation of mirror neurons also driven by motivation level of observer - higher motivation=more mirror neuron activity! -ability to control camera angle allows you to observe and admire yourself in action -avatars can help with minimizing differences in personality or culture that would otherwise inhibit collaboration...equal appearance playing field? Can also help instantly represent higher level, status, etc - avatars that look like people they're interacting with are most persuasive. Good to also look like part of the "in" group. - virtual touching is like real touching in terms of how people react! Vitual Economy/Currency: - economics less about money, more about making choices in face of scarcity - single player games: scarcity is often Time - multiplayer games usually have more types of scarcity and interplay at work - to generate lots of economic activity, design a lack of individual self-sufficiency and ensure inconvenient geography, with obscure and complex objectives + chaos. Also include planned obsolescence! - in work environment, workers are never self-sufficient -- thus fun can be inserted with mini barter and betting-based internal marketplaces (which lower cost of transaction), reputation scoring, etc. -Prediction markets can crowdsource and aggregate worker sentiment & knowledge -Resource allocation markets are internal auctions for limited resourceds (like compute time, etc) Teamwork: -Guilds use Dragon Kill Points to trade time & expertise for rewards using a private money system that gives the guild a sense of community: DKP accounts for each guild member, with zero-sum DKP system to combat inflation. Self-enforcing emergent systems that game designers didn't design! -"Change the game, not the people" to set the right environment for target collaborative behavior: games create collaboration environments, with clear objectives of large-scale collab efforts (without telling how to achieve those goals) - DKP could work in enterprise: offers community, transparency, fairness -- like Second Life's Love Machine. - DKP gives clear, realtime dashboards on everyone, moving tacit knowledge front and center -- great for performance reviews! - diverse groups with many points of view do better than those with members who all know same thing. Large groups do poorly when they circulate same wrong answers - need to create independence among group members - group intelligence depends on ability to aggregate work across individuals: coordinate & document, with metadata and dashboards! - Metcalf's Law: value of network increases exponentially (V=N^2). Models a transaction network where members can communicate with each other - affiliation or group forming networks = network of networks, when groups overlay inviduals: V=2^n. Groups can be any collective: chat room, buddy list, trading room, discussion group, etc. Leadership: what works in games, guilds works in real life! -good leader has four core capabilities: 1) Sensemaking: notice, evaluate and communicate ambiguous situations -- creating mental maps, stories and points of view 2) Relating: developing key relationships within and across an organization, with balance of inquiry (understanding perspective of others/ what data & reasoning did they use?) and advocacy (articulating POV with data & reasoning) 3) Visioning: creating compelling images of the future -- "what could be", that motivates others to fulfill that vision 4) Inventing: creating methods for people to work together to achieve those goals (implementation & execution) - leadership roles in games are often temporary, and easily allow everyone to try out leadership -- many stars are surprises! (Ex: guild leaders who step-up reluctantly and voluntarily vs being appointed). Ability to get out of leadership responsibility encourages experimentation! - how to allow for more self-nomination in work leadership settings? - accelerated pace encourages risk taking - fast feedback loops for trial and error, as expected feature of play (vs deliberate strategizing in corporate setting) - non-monetary incentives like DKP = great answer to "what I get when we win?" Games align group and individual goals closely, without needing to use real money - game incentives can also decouple motivation systems from who you know vs how well you do -- fluid meritocracy, which increases perception of fairness! - hypertransparency of data and DKP makes leading easier, and also makes folllowing easier! Uber-dashboard = realtime business intelligence, with the game making the info automatically transparent during play, including persistent reputations, ranks, levels, etc Power of Play - play is not = frivolity, but power: game play allows conflict to be practiced and skills to be recognized - Johan Huizinga (1949): playful contests are same as activities that shape essence of culture: politics, law, scholarship, arts. Play = tension between known/uncertain, with rhythm/tempo (create and then resolve tension), has rules and beginning/end. Play is also voluntary and not commanded - players in it to win it. - Play as Fate: people like to gamble because they feel like they are transferring destiny to powers beyond themselves. Work supplies lots of random surprises - games introduce randomness to create backdrop for problem solving by using surprise to motivate a workaround (saving space for mini-games of chance embedded in larger game). ?? Plan for surprises to delight, challenge, engage workers?? - play as Flow (highest form of engagement): clear goals at each step, immediate feedback, balance between challenge and skill, merger of action and awareness, exclusion of distractions, no worries about failure, absence of self-consciousness, time becomes distorted, experience is end in itself ?? How to design flow into workplace?? Management should provide opportunities for flow in the workplace - Hedonic asymmetry: positive and negative experiences are not equal in terms of arousal associated with each. Bad stuff hurts us more than good stuff helps us. Games use negativity to increase arousal- feels great to fix or beat things. - arousal activates emotions, which boosts attention. When emotional activation fires neurons in amygdala along with neurons in medial temporal lobe (for descriptive memory), then that memory gets more attention & remembered better ?? How to inject emotional activation when learning something for better recall ?? Games designers are also game players: involve workers in design of systems - hear out concerns of privacy and fairness, use player trials and feedback to fine tune level design, etc. How to Gamify: 1) build conceptual map linking games & work: analyze parallel experiences in personal worlds of work & play (mirrored activity exercise) 2) Study what others doing @ intersection of games & work 3) Experiment with bite-sized use case that address real pain points 4) Commit to focused application of principles 5) Measure impact of what matters to enterprise & individuals 6) Evolve better, more comprehensive systems - allow for communication systems that can be reconfigured by participants. Info overload problem: 1) absolute amount of new info needed to view what's of interest, 2) perverse problem of queued messaging: more recent (not most important) message @ top of stack, 3) impact of interruptions on time lost and time to get back on track. Games do good job of balancing these in the UI - design for time pressure and surprises

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    The crossover between games and work. We can all use more engagement at work. Flow = Productivity and a better life. Work/Play is a false dichotomy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nelson Zagalo

    I was truly deceived. I know past work from the authors, and I was expecting more. I was expecting in depth analysis of engagement, not gamification creed!!! The author’s intentions were to present the benefits of transferring MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online games) social and hierarchical organisation to regular business work. The premisse, apart its flaws, could be interesting but the authors failed to convince us. To be fully respectful of the authors I must say that "Total Engagement" was the I was truly deceived. I know past work from the authors, and I was expecting more. I was expecting in depth analysis of engagement, not gamification creed!!! The author’s intentions were to present the benefits of transferring MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online games) social and hierarchical organisation to regular business work. The premisse, apart its flaws, could be interesting but the authors failed to convince us. To be fully respectful of the authors I must say that "Total Engagement" was the first book trying to present a perspective on the subject of gamification. This said, we must acknowledge that there was not enough discussion in 2008 to debate approaches to the subject. So this is a first one, and it should be judged having that in mind. Okay, to start we can easily understand that they don’t know much about games, and even less about complexer games as MMOs. This is explicitly demonstrated when they resolve to present what they consider to be the 10 Elements of Great Games, "1) Self representation with avatars 2) 3D environments 3) Narrative Context 4) Feedback 5) Reputation, Ranks, Levels 6) Marketplace and Economies 7) Competition 8) Teams 9) Parallel Communication Systems 10) Time Pressure" This list is not wrong, and can serve people knowing nothing about games, but it’s too much surface centred. The authors fail to analyse core game design that makes these items possible. As an introductory list of features, it would be acceptable, but doing an entire book on this?! Then comes the lightness with which the authors treat the transferability of social game interaction into real world work interaction. Reading “Total Engagement” we get the sense that business would not only gain in adopting game systems and metrics, but that it would be astonishingly easy. We feel it’s more a matter of will than anything else. For the authors, the academic view of play as not opposite to work, can be translated into a corollary saying that "work is equal to play", which is plain wrong. In the end, a book that can be interesting for people unaware of the gamification discussion, don't expect much else.

  4. 4 out of 5

    E

    How games and gaming will – and should – change business This book’s title, Total Engagement, is a tantalizing banner, but its subtitle, Using Games and Virtual Worlds to Change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete, is a full explanation. Stanford professor Byron Reeves and physician, inventor and CEO J. Leighton Read address the possibilities games offer at work. They explain the many ways that games might change work for the better, making it more meaningful engaging, and productive. They How games and gaming will – and should – change business This book’s title, Total Engagement, is a tantalizing banner, but its subtitle, Using Games and Virtual Worlds to Change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete, is a full explanation. Stanford professor Byron Reeves and physician, inventor and CEO J. Leighton Read address the possibilities games offer at work. They explain the many ways that games might change work for the better, making it more meaningful engaging, and productive. They analyze gaming’s positive and negative aspects. They are clear about the fact that since millions of people already “game” regularly, even obsessively, many changes they discuss are now under way at desks and in cubicles – everywhere that employees work with computers. Their book gives leaders the tools to use the games that are being played at their companies in a conscious, focused way. Given the broad array of topics that gaming addresses, this book can guide leaders who want to ride the gaming wave, human resources professionals who need to keep up with their shifting domain and others who are interested in workplace change (and games, of course). To learn more about this book, check out the following link: http://www.getabstract.com/summary/10...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    A discussion of how to use game mechanics to make work more interesting. The book's best feature is its discussion of how MMO guilds and guild raids work. The parallels to business life, and particularly the parallels between guild leadership and management were very interesting. The review of the tools guild leaders use to manage their teams was compelling in that "oh I wish I could do that even though its totally unrealistic" kind of a way. Unfortunately the authors, who are not actually gamers A discussion of how to use game mechanics to make work more interesting. The book's best feature is its discussion of how MMO guilds and guild raids work. The parallels to business life, and particularly the parallels between guild leadership and management were very interesting. The review of the tools guild leaders use to manage their teams was compelling in that "oh I wish I could do that even though its totally unrealistic" kind of a way. Unfortunately the authors, who are not actually gamers, tend to fixate more on the window-dressing of games (things like the use of avatars or 3d environments) rather then actual game mechanics.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katya Kean

    Just started this book, but I love this quote from the introduction: "In the sense that a crisis shouldn't be wasted, this thesis is presented at a time when conditions are ripe for disruptive innovation in products and processes." -pg 15 What a great attitude about the shifting economy. So far I'm thinking that this book is going to be a bit industry-specific. Probably not for everyone, but maybe for business owners, investors, or software developers. I'm definitely reading this for work, not ent Just started this book, but I love this quote from the introduction: "In the sense that a crisis shouldn't be wasted, this thesis is presented at a time when conditions are ripe for disruptive innovation in products and processes." -pg 15 What a great attitude about the shifting economy. So far I'm thinking that this book is going to be a bit industry-specific. Probably not for everyone, but maybe for business owners, investors, or software developers. I'm definitely reading this for work, not entertainment.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Desiree

    I enjoyed this one. I was expecting something a bit different. It would be great to see companies use the game world to reward and encourage their employees. However, this seemed to be more of a book about World of Warcraft. I have been afraid to even start playing that game as I would probably do nothing but play it day and night. You don't have to be familiar with the game to be able to understand the concepts behind the author's ideas.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    I bought this book, because I know the authors. It is not appropriate for a reader outside the field. I think you must be already engaged and interested in virtual words and work optimization to enjoy the read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brendan McAuliffe

    this is ' whatever this games stuff is ' for management people who are trying to be smart about things. the best part is right in the middle it listed the four things a leader needs to do and # 1 is " sensemaking ". That's my new word for the decade ' sensemaking ' , ' I'm a sensemaker ' ...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeromy Peacock

    5 stars = Yearly re-read 4 stars = Re-read eventually 3 stars = Very Good 2 stars = OK 1 stars = Pass on this one. 0 stars = Couldn't finish it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    Feels like Deja vu reading this...especially since the same publisher released an almost twin in GOT GAME? by Beck & Wade in 2004. Feels like Deja vu reading this...especially since the same publisher released an almost twin in GOT GAME? by Beck & Wade in 2004.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael Simborg

    Sometimes authors talk about what the book could be or is about more than what the book should be about (which is the book and the topic). Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    If you are following the gamification trend, this is a must-read. Solid look at the way gamification is impacting work, life, and consumption.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    Cheesy and useless. I ended up skimming almost half of it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Perry

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alexandre Maron

  17. 5 out of 5

    Niels Peetermans

  18. 5 out of 5

    Casey Scott

  19. 5 out of 5

    Raq

  20. 5 out of 5

    Beata

  21. 4 out of 5

    Spoonfeed

  22. 5 out of 5

    Diane

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tony Fortner

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ignacio Gonzalez

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hans

  27. 5 out of 5

    David Sorin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Devin

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  30. 5 out of 5

    Perry 陳世品

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