From Ross Mayfield:
An interesting article in Wired by John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas Page explores the role of online gaming as job training and a recruiting qualifier:
...Unlike education acquired through textbooks, lectures, and classroom instruction, what takes place in massively multiplayer online games is what we call accidental learning. It's learning to be - a natural byproduct of adjusting to a new culture - as opposed to learning about. Where traditional learning is based on the execution of carefully graded challenges, accidental learning relies on failure. Virtual environments are safe platforms for trial and error. The chance of failure is high, but the cost is low and the lessons learned are immediate...
...In this way, the process of becoming an effective World of Warcraft guild master amounts to a total-immersion course in leadership. A guild is a collection of players who come together to share knowledge, resources, and manpower. To run a large one, a guild master must be adept at many skills: attracting, evaluating, and recruiting new members; creating apprenticeship programs; orchestrating group strategy; and adjudicating disputes. Guilds routinely splinter over petty squabbles and other basic failures of management; the master must resolve them without losing valuable members, who can easily quit and join a rival guild. Never mind the virtual surroundings; these conditions provide real-world training a manager can apply directly in the workplace...
Mayfield suggests he'll be looking at prospective hires' "extracurricular" activities, like World of Warcraft play, as well as their work achievements from now on.
I say, if we can learn to do business better by playing games, couldn't we also improve business itself by making business itself more like a game? As a manager, I'd love to have lots of Avatars. I'd also like to see Avatars in a company perform specific jobs, especially those jobs no "real" person likes to feel stuck--anyone in the company could become Vlad the Collector for the length of a phone call, or spend an hour playing Katrina the Customer Service Fairy with far less ego-involvement than they feel being dispatched to do these things now. Role-playing could make the "dirty jobs" of business more palatable (and keep egos in check for the big jobs, too).
I also like the way games quantify abstract acheivements and encourage non-monetary forms of exchange between players. Getting people within a company to collaborate has always been an issue. What if they had karma, health or power points in a game, some juju to trade? You could look at this as encouraging "office politics," but if you've worked in an office, you know the vast amounts of energy that go into office politics no matter what you do. Why not harness and store that energy and put it to use?
Could we make work as engaging and dynamic and fun as a game? Of course we could. I'd like to someday build an entire company with a virtual office on a gaming platform, and hire from the ranks of online players. Kind of like Ender's Game, but with profits instead of destruction.