How can government use gaming or gaming mechanics to get citizens more involved to create a more robust democracy? What’s happening already? What’s in the works?
Reality is Broken. How the lessons of Jane McGonigal can aid government performance
July 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm #135757
First off, Reality is Broken should be required reading (at least for this group). At first, I was skeptical of . how powerful gaming is despite being a somewhat avid gamer myself. But her research and arguments convinced me that games are the “twenty-first century way of thinking and leading. . . way of working together to accomplish real change” (p. 13),
To me the most powerful arguments in her book center around the feedback systems built into good games. As she writes, the four defining traits of a game are: a goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation. It’s the feedback system that makes games so compelling because of the idea of successful failure.
An example of successful failure is the video game, “Monkey Bowling.” In this game, you bowl using transparent bowling balls that contains a monkey inside. A fascinating feature of the game is the over-the-top animated sequence when you miss the pins and the monkey-ball goes screaming off into deep space. This is an active failure in that your actions are directly related to what happened. It’s the immediate feedback on your actions that compels players to redouble their efforts to try harder the next time.
Contrast that to the passive failure of real life where our efforts and failure seem to have no connection. You do your best but the project fails anyway. You have no idea why the project failed or at least how your efforts contributed to the failure so you learn nothing from the experience. After enough of these experiences, you essentially slip into a state of learned helplessness and just give up.
I believe the number one motivation problem in government is lack of good feedback. As a recent article in Wired magazine demonstrates, feedback is vital to changing our behavior. So, the first lessons that games can teach us in improving government performance is developing better and more immediate feedback loops for successful performance.
July 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm #135767
Good post. I couldn’t agree with this book more. I was wondering if I was the only one that read it!
July 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm #135765
The fundamental problem in government (civil service) and society (financial meltdown), is that bad behaviour is not punished. Good (or non-) behavior is already rewarded with unsustainable pensions and lifetime employment. Fix those fundamental feedback loops and governments will start to perform better.
The use of gaming, crowd-sourcing and modeling in government can help governments get better…but we have to be careful what we wish/game for…
July 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm #135763
Just be careful not to make gaming an obsession — 🙂
July 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm #135761
Mary Welch HigginsParticipant
I just finished the book over the weekend and enjoyed it. It absolutely “leveled up” my thinking about games and their potential for helping to solve real world problems. I’m recommending it to others and also did a blog about it yesterday where I listed some of the examples of games in the book. The Fold It project was just one of the amazing projects that illustrated the book.
July 25, 2011 at 2:19 pm #135759
I have been thinking about this very topic for months myself. I was sucked into the computer gaming world about 5 years ago and see the addictive side as well as the ways in which games motivate and drive people. Especially with the younger generations I see gaming as a possible methodology for work changes in the future. The main thing missing in real world government jobs are goals and leaderboards for which people can compare themselves. It may take a while to get to the mainstram but the ideas presented by this book and this topic are very relevant.
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