How Gaming Builds a Social Culture

A few weeks ago, one of my good friends was tapping away at his phone, and I asked him what he was up to. He told me that he was playing this “Clash of Clans” game online.

During my college days, I played games regularly. I enjoyed it, and it was a great way to pass the time. Now that I have kids I don’t have much time for games anymore, so I started to dismiss it. Then he said something that struck me. He was playing on a team with some of his peers from work.

After digging deeper into the story, I knew I wanted to share about it. Not just because I still have a fondness for games, but because this has some interesting impacts on the workplace as well.

Growing Up

One of my best memories growing up is playing games with my family: board games, word games, and all kinds of others. One of my absolute favorites is still Scattergories, in case you were curious. And when I think about those games I don’t think about which ones I won or lost. I think about the way I felt playing together and feeling like I was part of something special.

I will never forget playing an especially loud and crazy round of Catch Phrase years ago with family and friends. The purpose of the game is to give clues so that your partner/team can guess the secret word/phrase. We had wracked up quite a few points, and the other team looked at us and said, “It’s like you guys have your own language.”

I’ve never forgotten that, or the significance of it. It’s the same as having a unique culture. The way you talk, the things you say, the actions you take–they all are based on common knowledge and beliefs.

Funny aside: while writing this it reminded me of this scene from Four Christmases where they play a board game similar to Catch Phrase. 

Games at Work

Back to the original point: games can help to develop a culture that is uniquely social and collaborative. The company where my friend works has a “clan” or group of players, and each can invite other coworkers or family members to join the team. Even though some have left and moved to other jobs elsewhere, they remain tied to the group through the game and interact regularly.

I see games being used quite a bit in some of the case studies I publish at work. Companies use gaming and simulation elements to drive training goals. They also use gamification elements to help keep up social recognition and other interactive initiatives. There’s a reason why this industry is growing faster than ever before. It’s because they work!

Companies are seeing amazing results through the use of this new technology and worldview. Using games and gaming elements to keep employees engaged in their work can pay off in the long run.

Before I left my last company, one of the monthly social events I was putting together was a gaming tournament based on old Atari games, such as Pac-Man, Galaga, and Asteroids. I knew that our software, systems, and electrical engineers would be interested, even if they didn’t typically come to other orchestrated “social” events within the company.

So, while you might not rush out to get all of your employees hooked on the latest online game, think about how you can develop some camaraderie and trust among your staff with games. Just don’t pull out Monopoly. I can’t think of a way that ends well. :-)

2 thoughts on “How Gaming Builds a Social Culture

  1. Duncan M.

    Yeah, Monopoly never seems to be a good idea, regardless the situation. It always starts in a relaxed and fun way, but you can never predict how it will end. Introducing social games to work is indeed a great idea, especially as they can easily create a bond between players. However, it is important to analyze the habits of your employees before setting up a game day.

  2. Emily Homer

    I just read this article on gamification and i really enjoyed it (especially the video :)).

    I recently took an HR seminar class and it was one of the longest and most boring classes I’ve sat through. Don’t get me wrong, I like HR (i even majored in the field) but this class could not hold my interest. One class my professor gamified our lesson for the day. Gamification strategy definitely was able to keep my attention for the whole class period. It was a 180 because normally I would leave that class more tired than when i arrived. Gamification works people!!

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