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Jim Rapoza
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Games And Business Get Friendly

I always get a chuckle when someone is "surprised" that video games can offer value and lessons to business and tech. What a surprise! After all, video games have only been doing that since they first came into existence.

I always get a chuckle when someone is "surprised" that video games can offer value and lessons to business and tech. What a surprise! After all, video games have only been doing that since they first came into existence.But of course, everyone knows (and by everyone I mean people who never play video games) that video games are massive time wasters that exist mainly for geeks, kids and couch potatoes. For these people, the only real value of video games is that they traditionally pushed the hardware envelope for computers and other systems, helping to lead to more powerful hardware over the years.

However, for those of us who, you know, actually play video games, we've seen where the lessons of gaming have regularly been applied across business and technology.

Like how your new business systems have built-in awareness and messaging? Video games have only been doing that for about twenty or even thirty years. Using integrated voice to communicate with colleagues and friends directly from an application or social network? Games have been using integrated voice to work in teams (or taunt opponents) for a long time now.

What about the wave of new technology changing how we all work and socialize? In many ways the massively multiplayer gaming worlds that have existed for a long time are essentially social networks. Jazzed about the new geolocation capabilities in mobile devices? Thank games for making them popular.

The latest wave of "newfound" attention for gaming is in the form of how games can teach businesses to actually get people involved and engaged. As this article in Fortune points out, businesses are paying attention to how goals and incentives in games can be applied to get customers to get the most out of a company's products and services.

And this is definitely true. Trying to force someone to do work is usually a losing proposition from step one. But make it into a game and many people are happy to do it. Look at some of the popular Facebook games. They get people to run cafés, farms and other things that sound an awful lot like work. And people are happy to do it. Applying these types of incentives to work systems does sound like a good idea.

So to those of you new to the idea of games being a valuable resource to business and technology, welcome! We're glad to have you here.

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