Today’s business leaders grew up with games in their living rooms. As teens, they enjoyed the first portable gaming devices, playing anywhere and everywhere.
As adults, however, these Generation Xers have taken things a step further, importing their gaming affections from free time to work time by using games as a tool to improve business operations.
In short: Work is now accepted as play, and vice versa.
Across industries, major companies now use video games to find and train employees and increase sales among customers. And with the video game industry only gaining broader acceptance, the use of games in the workplace is certain to expand beyond the recruitment, training and promotion initiatives explored below:
Tired and cynical about change, employees can be a tough audience to crack. In response, corporations have discovered that video games are effective tools for raising awareness and generating excitement.
Health insurer Humana's Games for Health, for example, is focused on using video games to get people moving and engaged with their health in new, fun ways. Humana provides a forum for individuals, groups and institutions to share ideas and learn more about how games can improve health and wellness.
Marriott has launched My Marriott Hotel, a Facebook game to help recruit new employees. The game places players in a hotel kitchen and challenges them to shop for ingredients, purchase cookware, hire and train chefs, and complete food orders. Best of all, the game connects candidates with real-life placement opportunities on Marriott’s career page.
According to a study released by the Entertainment Software Association, 70% of major corporations already use interactive software and games to train employees.
Today games help train employees from the C-Suite all the way down to entry-level positions. From compliance and job-function training to IT, management and customer service training, video game-based instruction will only expand in the worksplace thanks to its unique benefits, including:
• Reduction in training costs
• Increased employee retention
• Increased training speed and efficiency
• Training consistency across all parts of an organization
• A data-driven approach that allows for measurable employee participation
Like the varied games they play, gamers come in all shapes and sizes, ages and genders.
According to the Pew Research Center, more than half of all U.S. adults identify themselves as active gamers, playing at home, school, in the office and on the road. The growth in gameplay and expansion across demographics is due in part to games being immersive and social -- a good thing for marketers who increasingly use games to engage their internal and external audiences.
Last year Ford Motor Company (a former client) launched a program that incorporated interactive elements into test drives of its 2012 Ford Focus. Potential customers navigated a test track outfitted with electronic markers and not only received scores based on the accuracy of their driving, but applause from a virtual crowd.
Gaming’s allure extends all the way to seniors citizens today. Perhaps the strongest piece of evidence that gaming can transcend any age gap, the AARP's launch of Games.AARP.org a few years back quickly resulted in that page becoming the most engaging area of the site, representing a little over 50% of all traffic.
* * *
Of course, treating games with the casualness with which they’re played can be a risky proposition. Companies must be careful not to add superficial gaming gloss for internal or external use.
However, as the companies listed above have illustrated, that games can not only change perception and open communication channels, but also engage their audience in ways no other medium can claim.