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November 22, 2017 11:05 am


Video games can reportedly make you smarter, help you land your dream job and boost your career.  British research body, PLOS ONE, claimed that strategic games could increase a player’s “brain flexibility,” and that training in action video games could increase the speed of perceptual processing.

A few high profile businessmen do it all the time.

Take Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. He’s a gamer who built his own snowball-fighting computer game as a child.

Motherboard, an IT industry site, said that Google Co-Founder, Larry Page, and SpaceX’s and Tesla’s Founder, Elon Musk, play video games together.

Games are a big business on their own. CNBC recently reported that gamers worldwide generated a total of $99.6 billion in revenues in 2016, with the Middle and Africa accounting for $23.5bn, at 7.5 per cent growth from a year earlier.

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The idea of mixing fun with work is getting attention. Max Altschuler, CEO of Sales Hacker, posted on his site: “I’m a CEO and I play with puppies at work. Here’s why you should too.”

“I’ve learned that having no desire to act like men of the past has made me a better leader, in front of my employees and behind-the-scenes as well.”

But today, a business strategy that integrates gaming at work is paying off big time. What is it?

Gamifying Work

Quoting a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NBCI), Forbes said recently that video games at work lowers stress and increases productivity.

Forbes wrote that according to researcher Michael Rupp, the “heads down, no distractions” approach, which so many of us take to work, wasn’t actually the right approach. We often try to power through the day to get more work finished, which might not be as effective as taking some time to detach for a few minutes. People should plan short breaks to make time for an engaging and enjoyable activity, such as video games, that can help them recharge.”

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CNBC said that perhaps one of the biggest indicators of a lagging workforce culture can be seen in how the U.S. lost approximately $370bn annually, due to disengaged employees, quoting a Gallop Poll.

“Well, it turns out a hoard of start-ups and large corporations have also caught a whiff of what’s cooking and have started to build gamification applications and programs which have turned into a $100 million industry overnight.”

Research by MarketsandMarkets estimates the global gamification market to grow from $1.65bn in 2015 to $11bn by 2020. Research by P&S said the global gamification market was expected to touch $22bn by 2022.

Read: MENA youth ‘not prepared for job market’

How does gamification work?

Gamification involves techniques to enrich customer loyalty and employee productivity and serves as a marketing tool to increase the customer base.

Factors boosting the market include growing involvement of people in social sites, high adoption of gamification in corporate and institutions and growing penetration of gadgets and display devices.

CBS News wrote a piece in 2017 where it interviewed Gabe Zichermann, who worked at Apple and CBS. He is best known in Silicon Valley for his expertise in “gamification,” using techniques from video games to insert fun and competition into almost everything on your smartphone.

Gabe Zichermann said: “So one of the interesting things about gamification and other engaging technologies is that at the same time as we can argue that the neuroscience is being used to create dependent behavior, those same techniques are being used to get people to work out, you know, using their Fitbit. So all these technologies, all the techniques for engagement can be used for good, or can be used for bad.”

Zichermann is now working on a software called “Onward,” designed to break the user’s bad habits. It will track a person’s activity and can recommend they do something else when they’re spending too much time online.

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Brain hacking

The danger of gaming is that programmers are trying to hack into our brain to control us, and make us spend time online.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper aired in April 2017 a show on brain hacking.

He interviewed Tristan Harris, a former Google Product Manager, who said Silicon Valley was engineering your phone, apps and social media to get you hooked.

Tristan Harris said: “[…] This is one way to hijack people’s minds and create a habit. When someone pulls a (roulette) lever, sometimes they get a reward and this design technique can be embedded inside of all these products.”

Ramsay Brown, a computer programmer who was also interviewed by Cooper, said: “A computer programmer who now understands how the brain works knows how to write code that will get the brain to do certain things.”

 

 

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By Hadi Khatib
Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years' experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about it.



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