Turn Your Work Challenges into a Game

Posted by: on Jan 20, 2014 | No Comments

seat back entertainment helga creative shift

There’s much written about the “gamification” of various aspects of our life – Wii Fit (and other consoles) introduced the concept of gamifying fitness.  Various challenges from tightrope walking and snowboarding to yoga and even zen meditation can be attempted and scored.  You can seek to enhance your own score by exercising again with improved performance or compete against other users – in your household or on the web.

This really came home to me on a flight recently where the seat back entertainment had a trivia quiz that tested speed and accuracy.  As something of a trivia queen I started competing against my travelling companion (and husband) but then it became apparent that I had the possibility of making it onto the high score table.  The All Time Top Ten!

This is on one level a very sad excuse to share my delight at making it all the way to No 8… (witness the photo above), but on another it reminded me of a fantastic talk I heard from Jayne McGonigal about gaming and how it can reduce anxiety (more effectively than prescription drugs) and prolong your life.

But the real reason that I made it to the High Score table is that I kept on playing and a number of questions came round multiple times.  And – here’s the key thing – I learned from my mistakes.  I remembered that Mars had two moons, not three (350 points), I found out the hard way who the drummer was in Starsailor (300), Rembrandt didn’t paint the Laughing Cavalier, it was Hals (250 points, bit slow on that one).

Repeating the process as rapidly (obsessedly?) as I did, I was able to apply the learning quickly.

When I saw Jayne McGonigal speak at the Deustche Bank event last year we saw images of gamer’s brains “lit up” by MRI scanning.  While gaming the scans showed that various areas of the brain were in play – notably the  Hippocampus –  the centre for memory and continual behaviour. This part of the brain in action will cement feelings of being ambitious and motivated.  Repeating the activity allows the brain to learn faster and adopt new habits.

So as its the season of new resolutions and new habits, what in your work life could you turn into a game?  What project could you attempt quickly (almost playfully) in order to make mistakes, find out what went wrong and attempt again immediately?

The approach can work for trivia, so it should probably deliver some sort of result on more important endeavours.

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