Maybe your mother was wrong…video games are good for you!

Wharton Ambassadors and Philadelphia area alumni went back to school and enjoyed Gamification, a Knowledge for Action Lifelong Learning session, presented by Kevin Werbach, a Wharton Associate Professor of Ethics and Legal Studies. Gamification is the use of gaming theory and techniques to motivate employees and customers to engage in a variety of beneficial behavioral changes. Fortune 500 companies are using gamification as a tool to motivate employees in areas such as health and wellness, sustainability, or even project management. As a player engages in desired behaviors and reaches milestones, the game provides motivational tools and rewards such as progress bars, points, levels, and badges to engage players and to encourage ongoing participation.

Gamification is a different approach to a similar objective. Instead of striving to beat your sales goal, you try to beat your high score. Which is more fun? With the pervasiveness of gaming in our society, this technique is a new way to drive desired behaviors with a gaming generation.

The audience participated in a simple version of a game-who has the oldest coin. The exercise demonstrated the need for continued engagement of a game to keep the players interested. While we all had fun trying to see small print on coins in a dimly lit room, once a winner was announced, the game ended as it wasn’t constructed for continued engagement.

Kevin Werbach is an engaging speaker and I enjoyed learning about this new business tool. In my world of sustainability, I began to think of ways gaming and mobile devices might be used to improve employee engagement.

Let the games begin!