Business Management

Kathryn Cave (Global) - Ghost Hunting, 'Shoctoberfest' & The 'Gamification' of Work

You're in a locked room. Your biggest fear is of the unknown. The lights and sounds change. Now it's a steampunk maze; a 3D movie set. One professor and his assistant are subjecting you to tests...

This is Shoctoberfest, only made possible by Augmented Reality. This event sees you transported on a live journey through horror using all the techniques behind blockbuster films and best-selling computing games. At Halloween, the science behind gaming comes to life: there are ghoulish masks accessed via apps; full-blown experiences like the one described above; and interactive ghost-hunting expeditions through ordinary local towns.

Alright, this is the obvious stuff, but driven by video gaming, techniques like Augmented Reality are also starting to creep into many different areas of normal life. Take the BCI (Brain Computer Interface) industry for example; in a decidedly sci-fi twist this is now looking at ways to control robots via brain waves. In fact one Argentinian company in this arena, Interactive Dynamics, believes Natural User Interfaces have massive potential in marketing, education and entertainment. In their vision this includes advertisements that allow shoppers to browse catalogues via gesture, windscreens that reveal information about the countryside, and motion capture systems that mean students can take part in history movies.

These new developments may sit at the more futuristic end of the everyday, but a recent BBC report gave this a more pragmatic spin. The article looked at the on-going ‘gamification' of work, and discussed how gamers, a once maligned group, may have helped herald a new era of office space. It suggested that the way office spaces are heading could have been be inspired by the teamwork exhibited by gamers' collaboration over long distances. These true ‘team players' (the sort many businesses cry out for) can match skill sets and work together to achieve shared goals without ever meeting one another.

In addition to this, an extremely popular article in the Washington Post recently presented a top ten of business skills that people can learn from online gaming. These covered everything that is normally requested on a job application form. The piece highlighted: evidence published in Psychological Research on memory improvements; benefits for planning, accuracy, problem solving and creativity; advantages for teamwork, concentration, situational awareness and multi-tasking; along with experience of learning to read the market and make management decisions. I wonder how job seekers would get on if they cited all their skills learned from "Call of Duty"?

However you look at it though, as game use has become so prevalent, the image of it, and gaming itself, has also undergone a seismic shift. Now computer games get Smithsonian exhibits, win Grammys and even outperform movies in terms of sales. Interestingly, when earlier this month, William Hague said the UK government was looking for up to 100 young apprentices for Britain's intelligence agencies; the press rapidly dubbed this a recruitment drive for ‘Generation Xbox'. This seems extremely pertinent when you consider the case of Cosmo the teenage delinquent who got into hacking via online gaming.

Overall, it seems that, as much of our personal life moves online - from social networking to computer games - the way we interact in these arenas is every bit as important as the way we interact in reality. Safe to say there is probably a lot both businesses and individuals can learn from computer games... and not just at Halloween!

By Kathryn Cave, Editor, IDG Connect



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