Sweet Are The Uses Of Adversity

Like most, if not all gamers, I’m extremely competitive.  Not necessarily at the expense of others, unless that’s the inherent nature of the competition, but rather focused on achieving a desired goal or objective, and thereby earning the associated reward.  For example, and the proof is proudly on display below, I finished Assassin’s Creed II (AC2) in late April, and actually managed to earn every PS3 Trophy in the game.  I gained the highly coveted platinum trophy and the lofty title of Master Assassin.  Basically, this involved doing a number of things over-and-above what’s required to just get through the storyline.  It meant mastering certain moves; finding hidden artifacts (in AC2, feathers and glyphs); and completing other challenges and goals.  Bottom line, a lot of time and effort went into earning that title.

You’re probably wondering, quite rightly at this point, why the hell you care.  Well, it occurred to me kind of recently that everyone in business, especially leaders, need to care. Ignore it, and you risk a serious problem motivating your teams.  Most graduates now have likely logged thousands of hours gaming, and they do it for the exact reasons, and within the exact same framework, I outlined above.  Work hard, master the skill, complete the challenge and earn the prestigious reward…. rinse, repeat.  The highly complex algorithm is far too often ignored in business and IT.  Even where I work, there’s no significant correlation between high performance and additional rewards.  I say this not to be disparaging of my company, but because I know performance-based compensation or even recognition is a rarity in IT.  Kind of odd given it’s a natural domain for gamers to gravitate towards.

I was talking about this with a couple of gamers / developers on my team the other day. Wouldn’t it be cool if we aggregated all the metrics from all of our different tracking systems and databases, and actually put together a trophy or achievement system of our own?  Sure, it’s a direct clone of the Playstation trophy model or Xbox achievements, but if it can motivate me to spend hours looking for hidden feathers in Renaissance Italy, I’ll bet it could charge up the staff to focus on their objectives, and gain that same sense of recognition. One of the guys replied that successful organizations take the best aspects of frameworks others have developed and leverage them to create efficiencies and improvements of their own.  He added that a trophy recognition system is the sort of project that if it were done properly, would probably wind up in a business or tech journal.

The business of gaming is one where companies compete to create the most immersive and engaging experience for its consumers, and an industry that has typically showcased the finest developments in software first.  Any company undertaking software development should spend time understanding what’s happening in games, and see what it can do to create such an experience for its customers, and even its employees.  Oh yeah, and if you have any questions about AC2, don’t hesitate to ask!


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