Phaedra, Michael and Michael were delighted to be accompanied by Ross Smith, Director of Test in the Skype division of Microsoft for this show, centered around games for employee engagement.
Ross described the recent work that he and his team have done with giving personality to buildings and using the building itself as the ‘game master’, to orchestrate and facilitate employee engagement.
Games for health
One of the intriguing examples (also discussed in Episode 58, but without the benefit of Ross’s first hand experience) uses a water cooler with personality as the mechanism for gamifying health. While drinking eight glasses of water a day is a pretty well known health tip (I’m drinking my 4th big glass as I’m writing this!), it is easily forgotten in the hectic business day. The team at Microsoft gave their water cooler a bubbly user interface and 4 emotional modes (sad, happy, attract/flirt and party) to experiment with increasing the amount of water consumed by the building’s people. The results: more water for more people, and a wealth of data, feedback and ideas to continue the innovation. The picture above was inspired by Ross’ story and is my low-tech example of giving the water cooler in my apartment some personality as well!
Another example is classifying the food choices in the cafeteria as green, yellow and red, and then using that data to guide behavior. If less healthy food choices are selected, the building might suggest using the stairs or a longer route for a meeting later in the day. This has helped the team learn more about what people are willing to share, and what they are not, and inform future game design on what should have individual vs team collective goals to maximize participation while respecting privacy.
Games for social / business interaction
The game ISHI was used as the buildings were being opened to help the team come together in an open office, connected community. Ross described how people may respond to some survey questions indicating preference between skiing and snowboarding, or cat / dog fandom, and then how that kind of data can be used to create groups and teams with common interests and help people to get to know one another even better. The building invited people to come to a central space, then you have met a number of people with common interest across job roles and functions, with the goal of beating the clock to figure out what do they have in common. This method of dynamic team creation could be leveraged to bring a creative team together to brainstorm how to solve a client’s problem just as easily.
Windows Language Quality Game was another game with similar tremendous results, this game wound up attracting more than 4,000 people play and review over half a million screens, separating actionable feedback from non-actionable feedback received from public beta testers of Windows software. Ross noted that rigorous data collection is key, and his experience of 4x – 16x increased participation and results because of the game mechanics can demonstrate even to the skeptics the business impact and win them over.
We were delighted to have Ross on the show with us today, and if you would like to learn more about him and the projects he’s involved in, you can find him on the following links:
We are happy to have had you dialed our way. You can find us on G+, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and more. Please comment, friend, tweet and send us topics you would like to hear more about!
Selected show links
ISHI game for the Skype team at Microsoft — http://research.microsoft.com/apps/video/default.aspx?id=200275
ISHI game documentary rough cut — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0W431tP6SM&feature=youtu.be
Water Cooler — http://www.businessinsider.com/like-to-flirt-at-the-office-water-cooler-a-microsoft-intern-built-a-water-cooler-that-flirts-back-2013-8
Vote for Sentient Buildings for SXSW — http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/21393
Microsoft Interns — http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/news/features/interns13-082613.aspx
Magic Circle of Play — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Circle_(virtual_worlds)
Everymove.org — https://everymove.org
Chore Wars — http://www.chorewars.com
uTest — http://www.utest.com
Games we’re playing (or thinking about)
Madden 25 — http://www.easports.com/madden-nfl
Assassin’s Creed — http://assassinscreed.ubi.com/en-us/home/index.aspx
SimCity — http://www.simcity.com
Bioshock 2 — http://www.bioshock2game.com/en/
Call of Duty Black Ops 2 — http://www.callofduty.com/blackops/
iPad games for toddlers? Phaedra would like your suggestions!
Dragon Box — http://research.microsoft.com/apps/video/default.aspx?id=200275
Motor World — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/motor-world-car-factory/id580666714?mt=8
Plants vs Zombies 2 – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/plants-vs.-zombies-2/id597986893?mt=8
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