Why Isn’t Work as Fun as a Video Game?

Of Steve Barth‘s recent talk at the KMWorld & Intranets conferences, Dave Pollard wrote:

Millions of people voluntarily spend 20 hours per week or more playing multiplayer online games that are essentially complex collaborative role-playing activities. In doing this they do many of the same things that are essential to effective business collaboration: set goals, select roles, identify appropriate teammates, accumulate capabilities (i.e. learn) and experience, and engage in strategic social interaction. So why is it so hard to cajole employees, when they are paid to do these things, to do them as enthusiastically and with as much engagement as gamers do them for free?

Dave attributes much of the appeal of video games to their complexity. Video games offer a rich, complex environment, where business, on the other hand, is merely complicated. The entire article is well worth the read, if you have the time.

While I agree with Dave, I’d say there are additional reasons that people love to play video games more than go to work. One of them is dependency on their work. Folks don’t enjoy their work as much because they depend on it for their livelihood. They don’t depend on video games in the same way. If everybody depended on playing video games to live, many would find it as exciting as responding to email.

And that, in fact, is the case. Every office worker is forced to play a video game, and its name is Microsoft Office.

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