Sunday, January 15, 2012

Every Worker, A Game Designer – Part 4 of Every Job, A Game

Dignan, in the book, Game Frame, that these posts have been based on, talks about the process for designing a game. They are:
1) choosing an activity, or mastery focus area
2) creating the player profiles, or motivational description of the players
3) choosing the interim and ultimate objectives of the game
4) choosing the mental, physical and social skills to be learned and improved in game play
5) choosing the resistance, balancing between boring & demoralizing
6) choosing the resources

7) defining the skill cycles, or the rounds in which actions are  taken and feedback obtained

8) choosing the interim and ultimate outcomes which provide feedback

9) play, test and polish to refine the game

Dignan cites David Cook of Spry Fox as proposing that “Any activity can be turned into a game: 1) if the activity can be learned, 2) if the player can be measured, and 3) if the play can be rewarded or punished in a timely fashion. You read this and immediately get the possibility that “all is a game” if you want to see it that way.

It occurred to me in looking at these design elements that much of this design has already been done for me in my job and organization, and that a game of sorts is to understand how it has and is being designed on an ongoing basis. Additionally, it occurred to me that there is an internal game which coincides with the external game of my work that I have the power to design and play to personal and organizational benefit. In fact, the more than my personal game can coincide and integrate with the organizational game, the more potential benefit there is for both of us. I might also find that these games are not integratable which is also an important signal to be acted upon.

Dignan says that “Achieving this requires examining the structure of our own activities and experiences in more depth than ever before. This process of observation and inquiry is the precursor to design. Indeed, to reshape the world around us—our workplace, our schools, our homes—we must become behavioral game designers.” In gaining confidence as a game designer, I recognize my role in creating good games not only for myself but for my team, my organization, my industry and my customers so that we collectively can heal the world.

May we all be better game designers and players ongoing. :-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Building Blocks of the Game Frame - Part 3 of Every Job, A Game

In my first post in this series I suggested that we, and our work, can benefit from cultivation of a more gameful approach to work. In this post, I want to expand on this approach and its implications.

In his book, Game Frame, Aaron Dignan, talks about the the Game Frame, the building blocks that make up any game. Game designer considers these and so should we as we redesign our work as a game.
These building blocks are:

1) activities, or mastery focus areas,

2) player profile, or trait-based player descriptions with motivational clues,

3) objectives, or short and long term goals towards which effort is directed,

4) skills, or special mental, physical & social abilities necessary to win a game,

5) resistance, or forces of opposition (chance, puzzles, novelty, levels & competition) which create tension and interest in any game,

6) resources, or spaces & supplies we acquire and use to win a game,

7) actions, or move available to us in a game,

8) feedback, the game’s response to a player’s actions,

9) the blackbox, or the rules engine containing information about interplay between actions and feedback in the game, and

10) outcomes, or positive & negative results occurring while in pursuit of game objective

At first, I found this list overwhelming, but on further meditation, realized that all this has been going on within and around me my entire life and I have been good at playing most every game I have found myself in. I had not been savvy enough to see it in the context of a game though. I further get that seeing all this as a game: 1) lowers my blood pressure & frustration level, 2) improves my focus & persistence and 3) allows me to win more of the games I create, and even those others create for me. (Remember my prior post on games we play: Win The Game You Are Playing, Even If You Lose The Game Others Are Playing.)

When I assume that all these elements are part of the game, I am less caught off guard and frustrated by them. I pay more attention to how I need to learn and adapt. I do so more quickly, thus creating a competitive advantage for my self and my team. Truly my work becomes a game and I an ever more skillful player. That said, PLAY ON!!!

Friday, January 06, 2012

A Gameful Mindset CanTransform Your Job - Part 2 of Every Job, A Game

Continuing my Work as Games riff, I was really struck in my reading of Dignan’s, Game Frame, by the characteristics which make games irresistible. Games:

1) demand participation, a thing we all know we want/need more of at work,

2) can be played again and again, without a loss of enthusiasm yet with increased learning,

3) are understood through play, not work, you hear that, not work,

4) can happen anywhere, and I don’t know about you but work happens everywhere for me,

5) give us purpose, and I find more and more of this in my work as I age,

6) allow us to solve problems, that thing I personally live for,

7) give us control, that thing I am trying to live less for but which I still enjoy having,

8) show us progress, especially needful in the “grind”,

9) prompt risk taking, that thing we need to get more comfortable with,

10) let us face our fears, that thing we need to face more and indulge less

11) give us glory, that thing we love, if not live for, and no you don’t have to admit it,

12) shift time, as in “time flies when you are having fun”,

13) bring us together, and what else is work if not “getting together” for better or worse,

14) facilitate transferable development, a too little recognized phenomenon, and

15) represent what could be, that think we are all interested in creating.

On reading this list in Game Frame, I immediately see how a “gameful” approach to work would be transformative for me. I figured, why only play games when I am off work when I could benefit from the enjoyment of such play most all the time, with just a twist of perspective. I think, YES, these are all things that I crave and work for, but if playing a game provides this inherently, what an incentive to play a game, and especially at work where I spend most of my life!