Saturday, December 31, 2011

Every Job, A Game; Every Worker, A Gamer - Part 1

I recently read the book, Game Frame by Aaron Dignan, a great read about game design with a nice slant on how one can better enjoy their work if they take a gamer’s approach.

Like anything in life, there are situation and then there are the stories we tell about them, and most of life’s experience is the story we tell regardless of the situation. Seeing work as a game is just a “story” alternative we have, and I have to say that my work is relatively more enjoyable and less stressful seen through the lens of a game, versus a job.

Dignan talks about the games as “structured and challenging systems that makes the process of learning rewarding, enables deep engagement, provides a sense of autonomy, and asks us to be heroes in our own stories.” (Read my post Every Worker, A Hero, for more insight on this last point.) Dignan says that games “force us to face facts, press on, and earn our way into the standings by completing tasks that match and then challenge our level of skill.” Games are good for us in that they teach us, allow us to develop new skills, new information and ultimately to master information and situations. The coolest thing about playing games, is that we are “playing”. You ever notice that, in our language, we rarely "work a game", nor do we "play a job"? No, we play games! :-)

A “gameful” approach to work enables our seeing the “game” in our work, and with it, new opportunities and approaches for learning, engagement and mastery. It also allows us to see many of the difficulties of work more positively as pushing us beyond our comfort zone as a meaningful challenge which purpose is to make us more masterful. It is interesting how at work we hate this pushing but in a game we relish it. Dignan says, “Some people do take low-challenge, low-control situations and turn them into wonderful experiences rich with engagement”, “creating a satisfying and escalating challenge instead of waiting for one to be given to them, and this approach literally changes their lives.” This possibility intrigues me and is one I reach for as I have worked to cultivate more and more of a “gameful” approach to my work allowing me to work less and play more. And we all know that play is healthier than work, and further is its own reward.

I invite you to take a read of this book, or maybe just the blog posts, review and videos about it and its author, and to join me in better enjoying and performing the game of work. I am convinced that our selves, our families, community and the world will all benefit from it.