Sie sind auf Seite 1von 48

Turning work into play: how to use game mechanics to motivate employees

Email: Twitter: mrlehmann

Diese Bachelorarbeit untersucht die Mglichkeit des Einsatzes von Spielmechanismen am Arbeitsplatz, um auf diese Weise Mitarbeiter zu motivieren. Ziel ist hierbei nicht, die Arbeit spaerfllter zu gestalten, sondern gezielt Spielelemente auf den Arbeitsalltag zu bertragen und somit die Mitarbeiter zu einem leistungsorientierten Verhalten zu motivieren. Als Grundlage hierfr dienen klassische Managementprobleme, welche mit Hilfe einer exemplarischen Fallstudie hervorgehoben werden. Zunchst werden klassische Motivationstheorien vorgestellt, welche sowohl das Spiel als auch die Arbeit beeinflussen. Anschlieend wird der Terminus Spiel erlutert, um eine Beziehung zur Arbeit herzustellen. Dann werden einige Spielelemente vorgestellt, welche Einfluss auf das Spielerverhalten haben. Diese werden anhand von Beispielen verdeutlicht, um ein Verstndnis ber den generellen Spielverlauf zu erlangen. In der Analyse konzentriert sich die Arbeit auf die in einer Fallstudie umrissenen Probleme, welche mit geeigneten Spielmechanismen gelst werden. Im Abschluss werden die zuknftige Entwicklung der vorgestellten Theorie sowie ihre mglichen Nachteile diskutiert um eine ganzheitliche Betrachtung zu gewhrleisten. This bachelor thesis explores the possibility of applying game mechanics in the work environment in order to motivate employees. The goal is not to make work more fun, but to apply game elements and thereby strengthen performance-driven behavior. Classical management problems are highlighted with the help of a case study. Initially, classical motivation theories with close connection to human work and play are introduced. Afterwards, the terms play and game will be defined with the help of literature to be able to make a connection to work. Since the act of playing often constitutes a planned behavior, game elements that influence gameplay will be presented. These will be clarified with the help of examples. In the analysis the focus will be put on the problems outlined in the case study, which will be solved by applying game mechanics. The solution process will concentrate on game elements that could have a motivating influence on the work of employees. The conclusion


will discuss future developments of the proposed theory while taking possible disadvantages into account to ensure a holistic treatment.


Table of Content
List of Abbreviations ................................................................................................... V Index of Figures and Tables ........................................................................................ VI I Introduction ............................................................................................................... 1 2.1 2.2 Level 1 - A Fresh Start................................................................................ 4 Level 2 - Overcoming Obstacles ................................................................ 8

III Motivation between Work and Play ....................................................................... 10 3.1 Classic Theories on Motivation .................................................................. 10 3.1.1 Flow Theory......................................................................................... 12 3.1.2 Goal-setting Theory ............................................................................. 13 3.2 Motivation in Games .................................................................................. 15 3.2.1 Bartles Player Types ........................................................................... 15 3.2.2 Motivation Components ...................................................................... 15 3.3 3.4 Compensation and Incentives ..................................................................... 16 Work Design ............................................................................................... 17

IV Games and Play ...................................................................................................... 18 4.1. MDA Framework ............................................................................................. 20 4.1.1 Game Aesthetics .................................................................................. 20 4.1.2 Game Dynamics................................................................................... 20 4.1.3 Game Mechanics ................................................................................. 21 4.2 4.3 The Application of Game Mechanics in Games ......................................... 22 Serious Games and Gamification ............................................................... 24

V Applying Game Mechanics at Work ....................................................................... 25 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Motivating Employees ................................................................................ 26 Setting Goals ............................................................................................... 26 Evaluating Performance.............................................................................. 28 Rewarding Performance ............................................................................. 30 Email ........................................................................................................... 31

Bibliography ................................................................................................................ 35 Ludography .................................................................................................................. 41


List of Abbreviations
FLM HR JCM MMORPG FreemanLindstromMeyers Human Resources Job Characteristics Model Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game

Index of Figures and Tables

Figure 1: A visual model of flow Figure 2: MDA framework 12 20

Table 1: Work and games a comparison based on flow 27


I Introduction
Games have been played since the beginning of mankind and even Friedrich Schiller noted early that man only completely a man when he plays. (Schiller, 1795, p. 62-63). The global distribution of games, the ability to connect players around the globe and the possibility to carry your games with the help of mobile devices has helped them to spread around the world. One of the most prominent of these global games is called World of Warcraft, a massive multiplayer online role-playing game, which has been able to aggregate a following of 12 million players (see Blizzard Entertainment Inc., 2010). Its players are spending an average of circa 20 hours on the game weekly, which is as much as a part-time job (see Yee, 2005; Wang, 2010). More than 50 million people visit social networking services like Facebook on a daily basis to play social games made by the industry leader Zynga alone (see Zynga, 2011). The demographics of video game players have changed as well. Even though many people still attribute playing to children and adolescents, statistics prove that video games online and offline have spread and reached nearly every age group (see ESA, 2010; Williams et al (2008)). Many game players are voluntarily spending significant amounts of time doing game related tasks that many would indentify as work. In these game environments players are organizing, categorizing, analyzing and evaluating different types of data on a daily basis, with pleasure and excitement. (see Yee, 2006b) What makes these games successful and at times even addictive, are certain game mechanics that can be found in all kinds of games starting with card or board games and have been perfected over the years in the development of video games. Until now, workplaces have been designed around tasks needed to produce or deliver a specific service to the customer, at times neglecting characteristics that could increase the motivation of employees. This has in many cases resulted in low employee engagement (see Gallup, 2010) and high employee turnover, especially in occupations that deal with highly repetitive tasks. Every game, on the other hand, is designed around the same central element: the players experience.

II The Management Game

The following case study describes examples of management issues frequently encountered in relevant literature. They include, but are not limited to, talent management, project management and performance management. The case study remains a work of fiction and any resemblance to companies or specific personal is unintended. FreemanLindstromMeyers (FLM) is a globally operating service company which offers consulting and other services related to tax and accounting issues. The company has performed well in the past. However, after the global recession in 2009 and its following consolidation of some industries, it has been confronted with harsh competition in several key sectors. This has lead to a high performance initiative called Focus.Excel.Innovate. intended to fortify their positions as one of the industry leaders. Focus standing for the industries that FLM wants to concentrate on in the future, Excel representing the companies need to improve performance while Innovate voices their wish to explore new sectors and services. The initiative was accompanied by annual performance goals and benchmarks for every country and their respective. These goals included a general improvement of efficiency and effectiveness of the services offered. One of the topics that arose at a regional leadership meeting was the constantly underachieving department of accounting specialists in Germany. The managers agreed that just hiring more employees could not solve the performance problem and concluded that replacing the current department manager should be considered. A discussion between the partners ensued over who should be appointed as new head of the department. Juan Garcia, head of global assurance initiated the discussion while reviewing global performance of his offices. I know some of us have talked about this before, but I think this would be a good time to address the problems of our accounting department in Germany. They have underperformed for the third year in a row now, even though they have hired five new consultants, just in the past year. I have heard through the grapevine that some clients have considered terminating relationships with us that we have kept over many years. This 2

would be a disaster, not just financially but also in terms of public relations, Mike Butcher, senior manager of global business development noted. Competitors had been trying to woe costumers by undercutting FLMs prices on services that would help them to get a foot into large organizations for more profitable projects. After a short moment of silence, Wolfgang Meier responded, I think, I am not just speaking for myself when I say that I think that Dr. Schmitt is a person with very high expertise in his field. Meier, the head of FLM Germany he had endorsed Dr. Ralf Schmitt, an old colleague, when it came to naming a new head for the accounting department in 2006. When I suggested him for the position, he seemed like an obvious choice due to his track record, but maybe he is just not a leader, he justified himself. A few opinions followed, voicing open questions about who should fill the open spot and if the decision should be moved to the next meeting to give Schmitt another chance. Ladies and gentlemen, we have delayed this decision for too long already. If we want to stay competitive in Germany, we need to think about replacing him with someone who can get more out of the department right now, Mr. Garcia reminded them bluntly. What if we just assign Schmitt to one of our big projects in China? Most of our accounting services there are still in development due to the difficult legal matter. I am sure that he is up for the challenge and I would hate to lose his know-how to a competitor. This idea seemed to satisfy everybody and by popular vote, Dr. Ralf Schmitt was to be offered an assignment in China over the next week. We should consider a fresh start. I suggest, we hire somebody from the outside to head the department. He might be able to bring a different perspective of the company and our business to the table. If this does not work out, we can always try to find somebody in-house and put him through leadership training or ask Schmitt to come back.


Level 1 - A Fresh Start

Richards applied for a position as department manager at

FreemanLindstromMeyers. Although still relatively young, he had gained extensive experience in several international accounting departments of large organizations ranging from automotive manufacturing and industrial sales to medical research throughout his career. Looking to move up into a management position, he had recently finished his MBA with the highest honors at a highly respected institute landing him an interview at FLM. After completing several interviews with the HR experts and surpassing his peers in assessment centers, he was invited to a last interview with two of the senior managers of FLM Germany. There he learned that the management had decided to appoint a new head for the innovative accounting department in Germany, due to its poor performance in the last three years and that they wanted him to play a major part in their efforts. Richards was to be put in charge of a team of 30 employees which consisted of employees of different ages and expertise. Most of them were young professionals that had entered the organization within the last few years as consultants and were accompanied by senior consultants and specialists. The two managers made sure to point out the expectations to Richards, but also reassured him that he could expect full support of his experienced colleagues. The department you will be heading has been having trouble meeting deadlines in the past. Certain benchmarks and key performance indicators that we have set on a global level have not been met. We have invested in infrastructure and training; performance will have to improve in the future. Meier, the head of FLM Germany, continued by explaining why Focus.Excel.Innovate was put in place and stressed how important it was to the success of the company in the future. We hope that you and the very talented team already in place can manage to increase the productivity. Improved results should be visible within the next months. As you know, only the most talented people are considered for a job at FreemanLindstromMeyers, but they need guidance. We want to keep improving and innovating to stay ahead in these highly competitive times. 4

This job offer seemed to be the big challenge that Richards had been waiting for and although slightly intimidated by the high expectations, he was sure that he could get the best out of his new team. The departments primary responsibility was to provide assurance and accounting services to FLMs clients in Germany. This was accompanied by two goals that every department had to pursue. The first goal was to acquire new clients by leveraging FLMs existing client-base and the second asked every department to develop a new service that competitors were not offering at the time. Richards was glad that his team had a foundation of longtime employees. This way he could concentrate on learning the ropes of the business rather than having to supervise his team right from the get go. As some of the more senior colleagues did not appreciate the forced departure of Ralf Schmitt, it took Richards a couple of weeks to build respect and trust within their ranks. The younger consultants had generally not been as attached to Schmitt as their older colleagues and tried to impress him doing whatever possible. Most of the department was working on client specific projects that required their special expertise while a small portion reviewed new legislature and tried to improve existing services. The department had been plagued with bad attendance in the last months and even at Richardss first meeting at which he was to be introduced to his new employees, only 25 of his 30 team members were present. After he had reshuffled some of the seating arrangements in the office to match at least one senior employee with a group of consultants, Richards tried to spend time with every team observing their daily routine and absorbing as much knowledge about the departments issues as he could. While visiting with one of the teams, he followed up on an email he had received from Linda Schilder, one of the few female consultants. What are you working on at the moment, you had mentioned an idea? I think I have come up with a new service that we could offer. I have been trying to understand what ramifications some upcoming EU legislature could have for our clients and I am sure we could advise our clients on these issues. Ms Schilder was the first one to present his new boss with an idea for 5

a service after Richards had urged all employees to think of ways to expand the product line in one of his early meetings. This was the value proposition of FLM. It offered the expertise and special knowledge of their consultants and accountants to other companies to reduce the cost of operating on a global scale and to ensure compliance with international accounting standards. After his first month at FLM, Richards sent a status report to his superiors in which he noted his first observtions. Only a few of the consultants that had entered in the past years had completed their basic training, including courses that were designed to introduce them to the software available. However, every employee seemed to be knowledgable enough to complete the required amount of cases during the year. Unfortunatly, there seemed to be a high amount of sick leaves and many employees were behind the time they were required to work. A few weeks after Richards spent his day in the office of Schilder, he was approached by Schilder, who presented him with the now finished service proposition she had been working on. Richards told her to invite the colleagues that were responsible for innovation proposals to a meeting in order to discuss whether this was a service that the company should offer or not and if Ms. Schilders research would stand up to lawmakers when their clients were audited. Only a few members of the department showed up for the meeting which Ms. Schilder had invited them to. After waiting a few minutes to see if somebody else would show up she started her presentation. I have been doing some research and it looks like, Schilder started and introduced her findings to the seven people that were in the room and concluded with a question. So what do you guys think?, Schilder asked. Sorry Linda, I think no company would be interested in even doing that, answered Winter looking up from his notes. Did you not listen to what I just said? It is going to become a big issue in the future and it would give us a head-start if we were prepared for it. Silence followed. 6

I think it is an interesting start. I could do some mock up calculations and see what impact it would have on the bottom line of one of our existing clients, one of the specialists chimed in. That would be such a waste of time; it is all hypothetical. It is not even sure that these laws will pass, right?, Winter interrupted. After the meeting came to an end, Linda Schilder had been able to rally up some support for her project, but unfortunately Richards had not attended the meeting. Since hierarchies were relatively flat at FLM and reporting was kept to a minimum. Richards had appointed the senior employees as leaders of each team to be able to hold somebody accountable for the work done. Richards himself only reported to two of the senior managers on a quarterly basis and the department remained his own responsibility. The teams had enjoyed relative freedom in the past as Dr. Schmitt had been too busy to overlook daily operations, due to his own focus on specialty issues. To insure compliance with benchmarks and deadlines, the company had put in place reporting software that all employees were required to use. Richards had started at FLM in August and the end of the year was approaching fast; reports showed that performance was still inconsistent even though his department started very strong in the month of August when he first joined. Performance decreased gradually during the remaining months and only peaked again before the end of the year. One reason for this fluctuation was the fast approaching deadlines that the department had to meet, while the other might have been the upcoming performance reviews. Bonuses and raises were only awarded at the end of the reporting period, but these monetary incentives had apparently missed to motivate the well-paid workforce. An alarming call from Juan Garcia, head of global assurance, reminded him that there were still a lot of open cases and that it should be his primary concern to complete them before the end of the year. Did you not check the reports over the few last weeks, only 50 percent of the accounts are finished and there is only about three weeks left! Mr. Garcias voice rang in Richards head. How could he have missed this?


Level 2 - Overcoming Obstacles

A problem that Mr. Richards was confronted with daily was his inbox. It was overflowing with emails and filled up more by the minute. Although his secretary made sure to only forward important messages to him, he was still not able to answer all of the queries on time. Emails included invitations to industry conferences, status updates on the performance of FLM, queries by employees about vacation and sick days, newsletters of expert circles that he was asked to attend and worst of all, he was being copied on seemingly every email that left the office. Richards sometimes resorted to ignoring or even deleting messages of senders that he did not recognize or messages that were sent without a title. This sometimes led to more follow ups and some of the emails had to wait weeks to be answered which led to the delay of important projects and decisions. If Richards went out of town for a week to receive additional training, he was met by a wall of new emails and voice mails that demanded instant attention. Although genuinely interested, he had missed the presentation of Schilders research project, which he had been invited to last week. She was sure to follow up with an email stating that they discussed the new service and that the team was generally interested. This was not the only message he received regarding the meeting. Winter had also followed up and voiced his concern about the usefulness of Schilderss project to FLM. In the end, he modestly requested a private meeting with Richards to discuss his own ideas, attaching a promising overview to the email. As December came to an end, it was time to inform employees about their performance in the past year and give them feedback. Although Richards had only been with the company for the second half of the year, it was he who was supposed to hold performance reviews with his team members. Cindy Bach, one of the HR managers gave him an envelope full of standard questionnaires and told him to prepare for this years performance reviews. I know they are silly, but we have to do it; it is our policy, she said. Richards had always disliked standard performance reviews. The first form was filled with questions regarding the behavior and performance of his employees and asked him to evaluate it on a scale of one through ten, based on what he had 8

experienced in the past year. The second was intended for the interview and consisted of questions about the employees personal goals and career development at FLM. Apart from the project that Schilder had presented, Richard was not sure how much she was contributing to her team. According to the reporting tool, only 70 percent of the cases that were assigned to Schilders team were closed on time, but Richards assumed that she was performing well. After working through the 20 questions, Richard realized that he had scored Schilder in the midrange in all occasions and he never scored her below five. This was surely coincidence he thought while he started to fill in Winters name into the next questionnaire. When he realized that he had positively assessed the past performance of each employee, it occurred to him that the feedback he was providing would not help him improve his teams performance. In January, after meeting with every department member in person and discussing their goals and achievements over the year, the departments statistics were improving. The motivation that their feedback talk had provided had encouraged many of the employees to make bold moves and teams were eager to receive new cases. The new found optimism unfortunately did not last long and only a month after their reviews, employees seemed to be disinterested and the speed of case completion was plummeting again. This led Richard to believe that the interviews must have been the source of the departments improved performance. His employees could perform great after all; they just needed feedback and the right motivation. Disappointed that he could not improve his teams performance significantly during his tenure, Richards decided to look for advice outside of the organization to find new ways to improve his employees performance. The upper management urged him to meet with several consulting firms that had offices nearby and ask them to submit proposals based on the issues that Richards had observed in his first 6 months at FLM. One company whose ideas stood out, was a small firm called Super Lehmann Bros. It consisted of only a few young consultants that offered a service which promised to increase motivation and performance by introducing game-like features into the work 9

environment. Richards had always enjoyed games of all kinds and was curious to see what solutions Super Lehmann Bros. had to offer.

III Motivation between Work and Play

In literature work motivation is often described as psychological processes which direct an individuals energy towards a certain task or project (see Grant/Shin 2011). On the one hand, work motivation is influenced by the motivational potential of the performed work itself and the employees personal motives which can be attributed to his intrinsic motivation. On the other hand, the motivation to work is influenced by conditions under which the employee performs his work, including his physical work environment, compensation and rewards and other benefits provided to the employee. These kinds of rewards generally belong to the field of extrinsic motivation. Intrinsically motivated activities are driven from within, meaning that the individual derives satisfaction from the task itself rather than from the outcome. The task is interesting and the individual is willing to pursue it further without being forced to do it or rewarded for performing it. Extrinsic motivation does not necessarily stand in contrast with intrinsic motivation but rather exists in parallel. Motivation of extrinsic nature is generally derived from an outside source and provides the individual with external satisfaction, for example monetary rewards. These motivations directly influence an employees work performance, his attendance on the job and the satisfaction received from working. (see Lawler/ Porter, 1967)


Classic Theories on Motivation

The research on motivation has resulted in different theories that try to explain the motivations that are fundamental to human behavior. Some of these theories are regularly covered in management literature. These will only be mentioned briefly in order to leave room to expand on lesser known concepts which are able to explain the motivational power of games and play. The first major group of theories on motivation are known as content theories and deal with the individuals needs, which motivate it to pursue activities to satisfy them. Maslows hierarchy of needs describes a hierarchy of different factors that are based upon the most basic 10

physiological needs such as food, water and sleep. He asserted that when one type of need was met, the next will emerge and thereby control the individuals behavior (see Maslow, 1943). McClellands theory of needs, on the other hand, singles out the need for achievement, the need for power and the need for affiliation. It concludes that every individual exhibits a combination of these three needs and their relative strength subsequently influences its behavior. Another often cited motivation theory is Herzbergs motivation-hygiene factors. These factors are based on a survey he conducted with a small set of employees and divided work characteristics into motivators and hygiene factors. He concluded that the factors that were able to motivate employees were different from the ones that demotivated them. Although these theories have been proven to have their downsides and limitations, they can help managers to understand that employees exhibited different motivational needs. (see von Rosenstiel et al (2003); Oechsler(2000)) The second string of motivation theories that try to determine the individuals behavior are the process theories. These try to explain how motivation emerges and how it can be shaped in the process. (see Schanz, 1991) Equity theory proposes that the individuals behaviors yield from the ratio of his inputs (contributions to the job) and outputs (rewards and compensation) he receives for them and how this ratio compares to his peers. This is especially important when contemplating compensation. The most important process theory is called expectancy theory. The theory proposes that an individual will select one behavior over another as a result of valence which is the value of the reward offered, instrumentality the probability that performance will be rewarded and the probability that performance will lead to success defined as expectancy. (see Oechsler, 2000) Behavioral modification is a psychological theory that is often disregarded in work motivation literature as it is seen as manipulative and unethical. (see Schanz, 1991) It roots in Skinners research on operant conditioning and describes the shaping of behavior by rewarding (positively reinforcing) or punishing (negatively reinforcing) certain actions. His research further concludes that the influence of the reward or punishment on the subjects behavior also depends on the frequency and timing of reinforcement (schedules of re-inforcement). (see Schanz, 1991)


3.1.1 Flow Theory

On top of what is known about the possible sources of intrinsic motivation and its consequences, Csikszentmihaly researched the qualities of an experience that made it intrinsically rewarding. Through observation of individuals performing strenuous activities without external reward, he wanted to understand what motivated them and how they felt during the process. As result of his finding, Csikszentmihaly coined the term, autoletic experience, auto meaning self and talos meaning goal. He describes it as an optimal state that is so desirable to the individual that it wants to repeat the task from which the experiences is derived as often as possible. In order to become an autoletic experience for an individual, it has to present the right balance between a challenge to overcome and the skills that the individual possess (see Csikszentmihaly, 1991). Csikszentmihaly developed the following model to illustrate his findings. Figure 1: A visual model of flow (High) Anxiety Challenge Flow

Boredom (Low) 0 Apathy

0 (Low)



Source: own illustration based on Csikszentmihaly (1991), p. 67. To remain in this flow, as the concept was later renamed, the challenge has to increase in complexity while the individuals skills mature. While an overly complex challenge will lead to a feeling of anxiety, an overly simple challenge will result in boredom ultimately decreasing the individuals performance or leading him to abort the activity totally. In his research Csikszentmihaly indentified certain qualities that 12

an activity has to have in order to be able to provide individuals with a flow experience. First, the individual has to be able to complete the task. Second, the task itself has to have a clear goal and ultimately it has to provide frequent feedback, Csikszentmihalys research concluded. As most of the challenges in life only provide a poor balance between challenge and skill, Csikszentmihaly was only able to identify autoletic experiences in certain fields such as sports, games, artistic performance, rituals and work. (see Csikszentmihalyi/ Csikszentmihalyi, 1988) In his later works, Csikszentmihaly connected his flow theory directly to Huizinga and his theory that games and play are the foundation of society as we know it. Flow is a sense that humans have developed in order to recognize patterns of action that are worth preserving and transmitting over time. This was Huizingas ([1939] 1970) great insight: that the serious institutions that constitute society science, the law, the arts, religion, and even the armed forces all started out as games, as context in which people could play and experience the enjoyment of goal-directed action. (Csikszentmihalyi/ Csikszentmihalyi, 1988, p. 34).

3.1.2 Goal-setting Theory

Through more than four decades of research, Locke and Latham were able to prove that goals and certain qualities they need to possess could positively influence task performance. They found out that the difficulty of a task positively correlates with high performance. Performance decreases if the goal exceeds the individuals abilities or the commitment to the problem decreases, which is very much in line with Csikszentmihalyis flow theory. Another factor that improves performance on difficult tasks is specificity. It adds an outside reference and thereby reduces the variation in outcomes. They distilled four mechanisms with which goals affect individual performance. First, the direction of goals can direct attention and effort toward activities that are relevant to the goals completion. Second, the effort needed to completing more difficult goals energizes the individual. The individual automatically applies task specific knowledge and there is no need for further planning. Third, the persistence with which goals are pursued meaning that a deadline can positively affect the time spent on tasks and speed up their completion and ultimately the strategies that are developed and applied in order to reach goals. 13

If the task is new to the individual, they will actively plan and develop new strategies to attain the goal. (Locke/Latham, 2002) Apart from these mechanisms that enable goals to improve performance, Locke and Latham were able to identify moderators that influence effectiveness of goals and how strong the relationship between a goal and an individuals performance is. The relationship is the strongest when individuals exert high commitment to a goal which is especially important if the goals difficulty is high and the chance of success is lower than for easy goals. Therefore, more effort is required to reach them. Commitment consists of the goals importance to the individual as well as the belief that it is able to attain the goal (self-efficacy). There are multiple ways to increase an individuals commitment. Leaders have the possibility to develop and communicate an inspiring vision that excites and energizes the individual. This vision can take clues from the organizations overall vision, mission and value proposition but ultimately it has to appeal to the employee. Making the individual commit to the goal publically will increase social pressure; however, letting the individual participate in setting the goal will increase the feeling of self-efficacy and make the goal more desirable to complete due to as the individuals identifying with it. Self-efficacy can be increased by providing the individual with the skills needed to complete the task and expressing confidence that the goal will be reached. This will lead to the mastery that ensures successful experiences in the future. For a goal to be effective, individuals have to be provided with feedback that allows them to measure the progression towards the goal. Observing progress over time will allow an employee to adjust his strategies, the effort put forth and the direction in which he guides his efforts. Task complexity is the third moderator of goal effectiveness. When the complexity of a task increases, the individual will reach a point at which he does not have the appropriate strategies or skills. Goal effectiveness then largely depends on whether the individual is able to develop a new strategy and how much time he will need to do so. (see Locke/Latham, 2002) The framing of goals was later introduced to the goal-theory and is concerned with the setting in which goals are presented. Goals can be framed negatively (you should not sell less than ten units this year) or positively (the goal is to sell more than 9 units this year) (see Locke/ Latham, 2006). Although research that positive effects from 14

framing can not always be triggered (see McElroy/Seta, 2007), it might explain why goals in games seem desirable to the player.


Motivation in Games

It is easy to assume that the same motivations that employees have for work will hold true for games and play but there is still not enough research that suggests this. Csikszentmihalyi was able to observe flow in sports (1991) of which some are unarguebly games and researchers have been trying to apply flow theory to video games (see Cowley et al, 2008). As players exhibit different behaviors within games, it is apparent that not all of them are driven by the same motives.

3.2.1 Bartles Player Types

In a first attempt to categorize players in role-playimg games, Richard Bartle developed a player personality test based on behavior that he observed while playing multi-user dungeon games. This test puts players into four different categories. Achievers are motivated by goals and challenges posed by the game and engage in behavior that will help them gain points and other forms of rewards. Explorers are players that are driven by curiosity and try to find out as much as they can about the game and its underlying mechanics. Socialisers seek interaction with other players as their main source of satisfaction from games. Killers, only a very small part of the player population, can be categorized as players that gain satisfaction from interfering with the game play of others (see Bartle, 1996).

3.2.2 Motivation Components

Bartless model was clearly limited as it did not take into account players that exhibited more than one type of behaviour. Moreover, it assumed that the behavior of players was static. These limitations inspired empirical studies conducted by Nick Yee within the Daedalus Project, which was an ongoing research project within MMORPGs. He designed a questionnaire on the basis of Bartles player types and earlier experience from surveys conducted with MMORPG players. His study was able to empirically expand and classify the players motivations into three main 15

components which then expand into ten subcomponents. Players in the study were motivated by game elements that Yee seperated into the achievements (advancement, mechanics and competition), the social (socializing, relationship and teamwork) aspects that online play offered and the immersion in the game world (discovery, role-playing, customization and escapism)(see Yee, 2006a). Some of these motivations can be traced back to more formal research about motivation as achievements seem to be in line with McClellands research. Social interaction is part of human nature and MMORPGs offer another platform to foster it while the immersion in play is a central part of human culture and tribal customs (see SuttonSmith, 2009).


Compensation and Incentives

Organizations use both monetary and non-monetary compensation to motivate their employees. Tangible compensation, which is sometimes referred to as monetary compensation, can include raising the salary, granting bonus payments for finished projects or participation in a company share-plan that ties the individuals performance to the long-term performance of the company. The salary is the standard form of compensation in todays work environment and while it was historically used to pay employees as an exchange for the labor they provided, it now also serves as a tool to acquire and tie employees to a company. (see Sllner, 2008) Intangible compensation is reached by status gains that the employee receives when being promoted as well as the more direct influence praise from superiors as source of satisfaction. The different compensation options can be used as incentives, most of the time presented as rewards, to drive performance of an employee by motivating him to overcome certain goals. The challenge that managers face is to determine which reward will work for a particular employee. The influence of incentives on performance has been proven by using three of the theories that were presented above. Incentives increase the valence to performance (expectancy theory) as well as the acceptance of difficult goals (goal-setting theory) while rewarding high performance increases the probability that it would reoccur (reinforcement theory) (see Barnes/Morgeson, 2007).


Unfortunatly, there is a growing body of research that claims that monetary rewards are counterproductive, do not increase performance and even decrease intrinsic motivation (see Kohn, 1993; Deci et al, 1999). This has put organizations into a difficult situation. It is in their own interest to motivate their employees. However their current tools seem limited. When we look at games on the other hand, we notice that players do not have to be rewarded with monetary rewards to be motivated to play.


Work Design

Maximizing worker efficiency has a long history in management research, going back to Smith (1776) and his divisions of labor. This lead to research on work design which can be defined as research on how jobs, tasks, and roles are structured, enacted, and modified, as well as the impact of these structures, enactments, and modifications on individual, group, and organizational outcomes. (see Grant/Parker, 2009). Unfortunately, this trend had negative effects on worker satisfaction which led to increased research on the motivating features of work refered to as job enrichment. The Job Characteristics Model introduced by Hackman and Oldham (1976) is one of the most influential in this field (see Humphrey et al., 2007). They developed five characteristics that they thought would predict the motivational value of jobs. The variety of skills needed to perform the job, how much the employee identifies with the task and how significant their contribution is to the overall success of the company increase the experienced meaningfulness of work. Letting the employee work autonomously was another suggestion offered by the JCM in order to increase the feeling of responsibility for the product. Feedback from superiors is also regarded as enrichment tool and knowledge about the results of the employees work will further improve his job satisfaction (see Hackman/Oldham, 1976) To revive this particular field of research Humphrey, Morgensen and Nahrgang (2007) conducted a meta-analysis of the prior research done in work motivation and design. They were able to compound the existing work design theories including the JCM and proved their significance for job satisfaction through empirical verification. Apart from the knowledge and task specific motivation that work offers, they also conclude that the social aspects of work, the interaction with co-workers like 17

feedback and social support as well as the context, the physical conditions under which the work is performed, largely influence the workers motivation (see Humphrey et al., 2007). Even though there has been a lot of research in the fields of work motivation and beneficial work design, there are still large gaps in the understanding of how to match work and the individuals knowledge, skills and personal preferences more successfully (see Grant/Parker, 2009).

IV Games and Play

In order to understand why games and play are so popular and how they can contribute to motivating employees we need to look at the following aspects: first of all we have to understand play as part of human nature and culture. Further, we need to define what to play and a game means and how these relate to each other in order to explain their possible relationship to work. J. Barnard Gilmore noted that Play refers to those activities which are accompanied by a state of comparative pleasure, exhilaration, power, and feeling of self-initiative. (see Herron/Sutton-Smith, (1971), p. 311) Certain types of play can be found in every culture and even traced back to the origins of man and even animals (see Sutton-Smith, 2001). Johan Huizinga was the first to propose the homo ludens, the playing man, and even went as far as suggesting that play was the source of laws, politics, sports and arts (see Huizinga, 2009). We refer to many activities as play or playing, for example the act of making music, deceiving another person, the playful movement of light or slowing down play in sports. (see Salen/ Zimmerman, 2003) The following definition of games was proposed by Clark C. Abt in his book Serious Games (1976): Reduced to its formal essence a game is an activity among two or more independent decision-makers seeking to achieve their objectives in some limiting context. A more conventional definition would say that a game is a context with rules among adversaries trying to win objectives. (p. 6-7)


An activity in a game as defined by Abt can be a process as well as an event and players take part in these activities. Players are independent decision-makers, meaning that games require that players actively choose between options presented to them within the game. Objectives are presented to the player as goals or contests. In fact, the Greek word for game is agn and literally means contest. When a player achieves these objectives he generally wins the game and therefore ends the contest. The limited context that Abt refers to is represented by the rules and mechanics of games that structure and guide the players activity in them (see Abt, 1970). This definition is not perfect as it leaves out some games that are not contests, but it allows us to compare work and games. Although the presented definitions do not clearly identify the complex relationship between games and play, it is possible to make two observations: 1. Games are a subset of play: whereas games represent a bundle of activities that are considered to be play. 2. Play is an element of games: where play defines the actions taken within the frame of a game and therefore also makes play an element of games. (see Salen/Zimmerman, 2003) In his game design manual The Art of Game Design (2008), Jesse Schell defines games even more simple: A game is a problem solving activity approached with a playful attitude (p. 37). These definitions allow us to draw a connection between work and play as a job clearly exhibits the characteristics that identify a game according to Abt: a limited context (the job itself), objectives (sell, buy or produce a product), independent decision makers (employees, managers and customers) and an activity (work). If this activity is then approached playfully, we have met all criteria for a game and as play takes place within games, one can argue that play can in fact be similar to work. In order to introduce the same pleasure that players experience during play into modern day work, work design has to take clues from game design. Therefore, it is helpful to identify the underlying elements that govern gameplay. Although not obvious to the untrained eye, games and play within these games are a structured












(Salen/Zimmerman, 2003; Schell, 2008)

4.1. MDA Framework

The MDA framework was developed in order to improve the way of communicating elements of games between different fields of application such as game design, game development, game criticism and technical game research. The initials M-D-A stand for Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics and divide a game into three layers that influence each other and cannot exist independently. (Hunicke et al, 2004)

4.1.1 Game Aesthetics

The top layer of every game and the most obvious to the player is its aesthetics. These represent the most visual part of the three elements and are described as emotions that are invoked in the player when he is interacting with the game system. The framework tries to move the vocabulary away from primitive terms such as fun and gameplay and introduces aesthetic goals to be able to define game experiences more clearly. Examples include but are not limited to Sensation (game as sense-pleasure), Challenge (game as obstacle course) and Discovery (Game as uncharted territory). (Hunicke et al, 2004)

4.1.2 Game Dynamics

Game Dynamics are the source of these experiences and could be described as the actual act of playing. Dynamics are the result of the interaction between the games mechanics and the player. The mechanics are influenced by the players inputs and both of them influence each others outputs resulting in a feedback loop. It is important to mention that play may not always turn out as intended by the designer as players might re-purpose game elements to provide for novel experiences (Boardgame Remix Kit, 2010) or use loopholes in the games design to overcome challenges with less effort. Designers have to take all options and outcomes into account when creating games. When shaping the intended gameplay they have to 20

limit actions and outcomes by boundaries and rules, the games mechanics. (Hunicke et al, 2004) Figure 2: MDA Framework

Aesthetics Player experience Design process



Source: own illustration based on Hunicke et al (2004)

4.1.3 Game Mechanics

Although the term game mechanics is widely used in game design, there is no clear consensus as to what constitutes a mechanic. One possible defention is that game mechanics are the rules that make gameplay possible and encourage a user to explore and learn the properties of the game space through the use of feedback mechanisms. (see Koster, 2005) The term game mechanic was first used in the design of board games and largely referred to the rules of play. The MDA-framework separates mechanics from the other layers with the following definition: Mechanics are the various actions, behaviors, and control mechanisms afforded to the player within a game context. (Hunicke et al, 2004) Every game consists of at least one core mechanic that is the main activity pursued in the game and is generally performed throughout the whole game

(Salen/Zimmerman, 2003). The other game mechanics revolve around this action and provide additional information, new settings and constraints that influence the interaction between players and the game space. An epic challenge, also known as epic meaning or global goal inherited in a game is the final goal of heroic proportion that a player tries to reach within the narrative of 21

the game. Overcoming this challenge or defeating the greater evil will end the game. Games with infinite play, on the other hand, generally do not offer a type of narrative and overcoming the current challenge will only lead to a more difficult challenge. In order to perfect the skills that the player requires to overcome the epic challenge he has to complete certain missions or quests. Quests are smaller goals of increasing difficulty which require him to learn new skills or increase the efficiency of the skills he has already mastered. Achieving a goal is then typically rewarded with points. Points are the most widespread reward that is used in games to shape the players behavior. Players can receive a constant amount stream of points for completing the core mechanic while more complex tasks generally lead to more points. The rewards can be handed out in form of a virtual currency that the player can exchange for upgrades or experience points which pave the players way to the next level of his characters development. Many video games are now incorporating status-only rewards called achievements or badges. These are usually separated from the core mechanic and reward the player for exploring the game. Although the term level was first used to represent the stages of the game world in video games, it is now increasingly used as a term for player status. Players reach higher levels for achieving certain goals or collecting a certain amount of points. Being the highest level in a game now inherits expertise and gives the player a type of social status among his playmates. As a lot of players are driven by competition, introducing a ranking into the game can further increase the individuals urge to play. These rankings, often referred to as leaderboards are generally a subset of the game as players can still play without leading the ranking and use a predefined performance indicator to rank its players.


The Application of Game Mechanics in Games

To facilitate a better understanding of the application of these mechanics in games, it is helpful to review some of the most successful game titles. A boardgame that was able to celebrate its 75 birthday in 2010 is the game Monopoly. The goal of the game is to bankrupt the other players and thereby establish a monopoly (epic


challenge). The player advances on the board by rolling dice (core mechanic) and pays rent and properties with a virtual currency (points). In one of the most classic infinite games, TETRIS, the core mechanic is represented by the stacking of blocks. These blocks come in variable shapes and the player is rewarded with points (reward) when stacking the incoming blocks and completing a horizontal line. The player is able to rotate the pieces, but is not able to change the shape of it. After failing to diminish the descending blocks, the game ends and leads the player to a ranking in which he can sign his initials which are portrayed at the end of every round played (ranking). The epic challenge presented to the player in the iconic game Super Mario Bros (1987) is to rescue a princess. The game consists of levels with different themes through which the player advances by jumping (core mechanic) over or on top of obstacles and adversaries. Additionally, the player collects coins (points) which yield the player an extra life. These are usually situated in the air to facilitate more jumping. Due to technological improvements, games grew more sophisticated and now offer new revenue streams to developers. Game subscriptions were introduced to provide a constant revenue stream from titles that needed additional sources of cash to support server structures and development costs for games that offer online play. One of the most successful of these MMORPGs is World of Warcraft. The main task of the game is to kill monsters (core mechanic) to gain experience points and money in form of copper, silver and gold. The experience points help the player to advance to the next level of his characters development while the virtual currency is used to purchase upgrades and supplies. The players level is always visible to his peers and enables him to unlock new content and thereby kill new adversaries while it also establishes a social ranking between players. While the game world offers a cheer endless amount of quests, the epic challenge is only accessable to players of the highest level thus increasing the urge to level-up. To lure in the more casual players, games are offered on social networks such as Facebook free of charge. These are supplemented with in-game purchases that improve the players abilities or help him overcome challenges. In-game product 23

placement and advertisement has also increased as marketers attention is drawn to this new fast growing medium. To adapt to these changes, developers and designers have put in place strong incentive schemes to engage players over longer periods of time. The game developer that is currently most successful at using non-monetary rewards to persuade casual players to engage with their games is Zynga Inc. Concentrating on Farmville, the first in a series of similarly themed Ville games; we can identify the planting of crops as core mechanic of the game. When harvesting the crops after their timed growth, players are rewarded with coins and experience points which they can use to plant more crops and get to the next level respectively. In addition, players receive cash, a third type of points, for reaching a higher level, which is required for other items as the player progresses. The players progress is fast in the beginning and slows down over time. It is constantly visible through a progress bar which adjusts to the players level to give him the impression of being close to completion at any time. Due to the fact that Farmville is played in a social network, the player has the possibility to compete against his friends directly or ask them to help out with supplies. As it is a game of infinite play, it offers no epic challenge, but a lot of incentives to reach the next level, such as social status and exclusive items. There is a lot of discussion in the game design community (see Bogost, 2010), as these games do not offer the player more than a series of mindless chores on a digital farm, requiring the endless clicking of a mouse to plant and harvest crops. (see Fletcher, 2010, p. 9), but as they are frequented by millions of players on a daily basis it is hard to dismiss them.


Serious Games and Gamification

The first attempts of using games for purposes other than entertainment led to the introduction of the Serious Games genre. These are often problem oriented games that are designed without entertainment purpose and are used in fields such as science, education, management and training (see Abt, 1970).


One of the most recent examples of the application of games in medical science is a game called Phylo. It is a puzzle game in which the player uses blocks of different color to match patterns that drive forward the mapping of genetic code. (see McCarthy, 2010) Foldit is another game, much like Phylo, that uses human brainpower to solve problems that computers can not address adequately. The game developed in 2008 uses the players natural 3-D problem solving skills to fold proteins into shapes with beneficial properties. It is important to note that, despite their serious intent, these games use the same mechanics as entertainment focused games to engage their players such as points and levels of different difficulty. Due to the natural affiliation of children with games, they have found a lot of applications in education. These games are used to teach math and reading skills and in one case even about the dangers of landmines in Cambodia. (see McMillan, 2010) Gamification is a relatively young concept which has recently gained a lot of media attention (see MacMilan, 2011). It is broadly defined as the use of game mechanics in non-game application similar to the idea of this thesis. Although the definition is able to describe a variaty of uses, it has largely been used in connection with online marketing and loyalty programs. Many game designers have criticized that making a website or online service more engaging through reward mechanisms does not constitute a game. Nevertheless, it remains a trending topic and adds to the influence of games on daily life.

V Applying Game Mechanics at Work

Research and practice have proven that motivation has a large impact on the work performance of individuals. It should therefore be one of managements top priorities to provide their employees with a work environment in which they can prosper and reach their maximum potential. The following paragraphs will try to show how the challenges, which Richard faces at FreemanLindstromMeyers, could be solved with a combination of knowledge of human motivation and game mechanics. Even though game mechanics clearly favor work settings in which the employees performance is easily measurable at any point in time, it is possible to apply them to almost any work environment.



Motivating Employees

The first lesson that work can take from game design is that games cater to different player types and their underlying motivation to play. Much like the research conducted by Nick Yee, employers should try to identify their employees specific motivation to be able to address it with the appropriate measures. Employees clearly have the same consumption pattern as players. They worker derives an experience (aestethics) from their job (dynamics) which consist of various activities (core mechanics) which are influenced by control mechanisms and rules (mechanics). It should therefore be possible to influence the experience derived from work by introducing appropriate mechanics. As the activity performed has to produce value for the organization it cannot be substituted itself, therefore improvements can only be made to the control mechanisms that influence the activity.


Setting Goals

Basic management literature demands that organizations set clear goals, provide an exciting mission statement and follow a strong vision for the future. This is the responsibility of the upper management and is usually formulated rather broadly to be able to address all departments of the organization equally such as the Focus.Excel.Innovate. initiative at FLM. Unfortunately, Martin Richards had missed the opportunity to set clear goals for their departments and actively communicate them to their employees. The vision and mission of an organization of thousands does not easily translate into goals that a single employee can aspire to reach. Goal-setting theory has proven the performance increasing properties of well defined goals in the business setting. Much like game designers, managers have to make sure that the employee or player understands the victory condition and provide smaller goals much like quest on the way to the epic challenge paired with frequent feedback to motivate employees. This challenge could be constituted by becoming leader in the market segment or identifying a specific competitor the department has to beat, while missions could include the acquisition of a new customer or selling a specific amount of a product. Apart from the satisfaction that an employee receives 26

from achieving a goal, it is also much easier for the manager to reward great performance.

Similarly to games, organizations can actively influence how fast these goals can be attained by their employees by insuring that they are adequately trained. Employees cannot ask that gaining a higher skill level or being promoted should be as easy as in video games, because they are made to entertain the player. However, we should try to take clues from their design. In real life, people have to put in a lot more time to perfect skills and talent can accelerate or slow down this progression. The entry barriers are significantly higher, but nevertheless, it is possible to gain proficiency if enough effort is put towards a goal. Setting smaller incremental goals along the way can help to motivate the employee while also providing small milestones which can be celebrated upon completion. A questionnaire similar to Nick Yees can help to understand what part of their job motivates employees the most. Using the employees personal motivations in human resource planning, managers can formulate personal goals with every employee and secure that critical skills needed in a department are developed along the way. When an employee is identified as a player who is driven by his urge to understand mechanics and competition, the manager can lay out a personal epic journey for them. This journey can include the knowledge and skills that the employee has to acquire to advance a level as well as mapping his performance on tests and certifications against another employee to give him a sense of competition. Introducing standard levels of expertise which are awarded for gaining further education or completing a project can serve employees as status symbol as well as identify them as masters of their subject to peers. In doing so, the organization is able to introduce a second hierarchy that appeals to employees that do not want to assume leadership roles while certain levels in critical skills can become mandatory for leadership positions as well, thereby increasing the transparency of the promotion process. Although flow theory is a rather abstract model, we can assume that addressing these issues can lay the groundwork for employees to be able to reach flow more easily in 27

their daily work routine. The following table illustrates how both games and work can and do meet the criteria needed to provide an individual with a flow experience. Table 1: Work and play a comparison based on flow Flow theory Challenge to complete Games Work

Players can complete lev- Employees finish projects els as subsets of the over- or negotiate contracts as all game experience. parts of their overall goal.

Feeling of full control

The player knows the The employee knows the genre, mechanics that rules and regulations of

drive the game and con- the industry and the tools trols that are to be used. he uses to produce the product or service. The challenge has clear Players are provided with Workers have to reach goals a quest or level to com- weekly sales goal or level plete. Immediate feedback of quality.

Points that are awarded Points that are awarded for reaching a goal or a for making a sale or retype of leader board pro- ceiving a certain quality viding instant feedback. rating from a customer and a resulting leader board providing instant feedback.

Source: own illustration adapted from Jones (1998) The presence of these prerequisites explains why some individuals report flow experiences during games and work.


Evaluating Performance

In most organizations, performance reviews are conducted on an annual basis by the responsible managers to provide feedback. They consist of an interview which is 28

held with every employee, in which the employers discuss the employees performance in the prior year and assess fields of improvement for the coming year. Managers largely rely on the behavior they can observe throughout the year and the results that the department or team produces to form an opinion. This practice has a lot of disadvantages as it is hard to distinguish the contribution that a single individual had towards the final outcome, and the behavior that managers recall can be biased by that which they had observed just before the review period. Developing mechanisms such as key performance indicators and benchmarks has improved the managers ability to evaluate whether performance of their department has improved or deteriorated over the year, but the frequency of evaluation still has to be increased in order to be helpful for decision making. Feedback has been proven to play a major role in goal-setting and flow theory as well as work design and by this means highlighted its importance for performance driven behavior. With the aim of motivating employees, FreemanLindstromMeyers should introduce a system through which their employees can observe their progression on personal as well as organizational goals and their performance relative to peers. In most strategic building or combat simulations players are provided with constant feedback of their overall performance. These measures include but are not limited to unit output, resources available and losses endured after and during play. This offers players a direct feedback of their current actions and helps to assess whether the way they are playing will lead to success. The most sophisticated system of performance measurement to date was implemented by players themselves in World of Warcraft. They introduced their own per second evaluation of team member performance when players developed their own tools, so-called add-ons to measure performance while trying to conquer larger goals in the game. The raw data is provided by the game, but players developed a system that records the players actions and then outputs detailed statistics about per second performance, average performance and performance when compared to their peers. These give the players the possibility to improve gameplay as well as an easy way to evaluate the performance of each member of a team in real time. A system at FreemanLindstromMeyers could include a dashboard for every employee, which enables them observe their personal as well as organizational goals. 29

The reporting system already in place can provide information which feeds dashboard that shows employees performance. Richards can use the information to set goals for every team which they can observe on the dashboard. These can include a ranking that displays the departments performance relative to other offices as well as a teams performance within the department which appeals to workers driven by competition. A custom profile can help employees to follow their progress towards reaching the next level of expertise, including the qualifications they still have to acquire as well as the other learning opportunities that the completion will unlock. By setting up different career tracks that link levels to positions,

FreemanLindstromMeyers can actively influence and plan the talent development within their workforce.


Rewarding Performance

It is in the nature of work that not all people pursue it voluntarily, but in order to earn a salary that will support themselves and their family. Consequently, salaries will always be an important part of the employee-employer relationship. However, there is evidence that employees are more intrinsically motivated by intangible rewards such as praise, status and the satisfaction of mastering a new skill. Game developers like Zynga Inc. and Blizzard Entertainment Inc., on the other hand, have harnessed the power automated of non-monetary, intangible rewards to convince players to spend significant amounts of time and money on their games. Although behavioral manipulation might be frowned upon outside of games, management should concentrate on the power of scheduled intangible rewards themselves.

FreemanLindstromMeyers should start by identifying the behavior they would like to reinforce and then plan a reward system accordingly. While rewarding the speed in which the cases are closed by a single employee seems like an obvious choice, it is important to take into account that this might decrease the quality of the service over the long run. A better approach could be awarding points for cases closed by each team in relation to the quality of service that the customer experiences, thus adding another source of feedback while also ensuring that competition does not decrease crucial collaboration between team members. Since these rewards are meant to


trigger the intrinsic motivations of employees, FLM should not make the acquired points exchangeable for monetary rewards.



Many work environments provide activities that could be identified as core activity of the employees work responsibilities. However, not all of them provide a constant activity that can be measured well. To prove the applicability of game mechanics in the work environment we can resort to email as our core activity. Email is a common denominator in many work settings today and as employees have to cooperate to be able to produce outputs successfully, communication through emails has become ubiquitous. Although it is one of the most efficient communication tools in the business environment, it has come under criticism. Due to information overload employees are inhibited in their work performance, wasting significant amounts of time on email management (see Webb/Dean, 2011). The core activity of email is processing the electronic messages. In order to improve the efficiency it seems helpful to concentrate on the following two problems: 1. Providing the employee with an incentive to read and respond to emails in a timely manner. 2. Helping the employee to sort the incoming messages for their importance. To improve the time in which the employee reads and responds to his emails can be directly influenced by showing him his email balance; for instance, how many emails does he have answered in comparison to the emails that linger in his inbox unread? Showing the employee the balance with the help of a progress bar will be helpful if messages accumulate faster than he can read, making the bar move up slower instead of setting it back. Giving the employee a time-limit to respond to every email will instill in him a sense of urgency that can be reinforced by rewarding fast answers with more points (see Baydin Inc, 2010). Another approach to making emails more efficient is introducing a virtual economy into the email system of an organization. Employees receive a limited amount of an artificial currency that they can attach to emails and meeting invites. This currency represents the perceived value of this message or the importance of attendance to the 31

meeting. New currency enters the economy only when new employees join the organization and balances are reset in fixed time periods. This method will protect the system from inflation, giving no employee an unfair competitive edge and ensuring that no individual amasses currency without using it, thereby bankrupting active participants. The true power of this approach is its ability to decrease the complexity of deciphering which messages are important to their senders. As currency remains scarce, it will decrease the noise of copying other employees on emails that are not of primary interest to them. (see Reeves/Read, 2009)


VI Conclusion
The aim of this thesis was to investigate the application of game mechanics in a work environment in order to motivate employees. Based on the current findings it is possible to argue that applying game mechanics could have the same influence on employees as they have on players by addressing their specific motivations. Although many critics of gamification argue that assigning points to tasks does not make them game-like and that a fun activity has to be at the core of every game to make it enjoyable. As the short excurse into games and play shows, this arguement largely depends on the definition of what constitutes an enjoyable activity. A problem that might arise from the implementation of a game system could be that individuals try to corrupt or game the system to receive higher payouts without much effort. Organizations will have to address these issues by actively adapting the game to ensure fair gameplay between employees. The game mechanics need to support the employee in his work and decision making, rather than making it more complex while companies have to be mindful of the behavior they reward. Motivation along with the factors that drive it is still a relatively young field of research and motivation factors might change with societys standards. There has not been much research about age differences in work motivation, but there are signs that different generations might have different motivational needs. Research has shown that younger employees are more interested in extrinsic rewards than learning opportunities and social interaction. (Twenge et al, 2010) Eric Schmidt fromer CEO of Google stated at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, Everything in the future online is going to look like a multiplayer game. If I were 15 years old, that's what I would be doing right now." (see Laughlin, 2011) New opportunities to introduce game mechanics into the work environment will surface over the coming years as more and more work is conducted or recorded electronically. This knowledge will result in more information that can be used to evaluated employee performance more accurately and allow more behavior to be rewarded and the feedback to be more precise.


It might just be a matter of time until an employee receives his first point for answering an email or acquiring a new customer.


Abt, Carl C. 1970: Serious Games, Viking Press, New York. Allfacebook (WebMediaBrands Inc.): Application statistics, URL:, accessed 13.02.11 Barnes, Christopher M./ Morgeson Frederick P. (2007): Typical Performance, Maximal Performance, and Performance Variability: Expanding Our Understanding of How Organizations Value Performance, in: Human Performance, No. 20 (3), pp. 259-274. Bartle, Richard (1996): Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs, The Journal of Virtual Environments,1 (1). Baydin Inc (2010): The Email Game, URL:, accessed: 16.02.11 Blizzard Entertainment Inc. (2010): Press Release, URL: accessed:, 13.02.11 Bogost, Ian (2010): Cow Clicker: The Making of



http//, accessed: 16.02.11 Boxall, Peter/ Purcell, John/ Wright, Patrick (2007): The Oxford Handbook of Human Resource Management, 1. Edition, Oxford University Press Inc., New York. Comelli, Gerhard/ Von Rosenstiel, Lutz (2003): Fhrung durch Motivation, Mitarbeiter fr Organisationsziele gewinnen, 3. Auflage, Verlag Franz Vahlen, Mnchen. Cowley, Ben / Charles, Darryl / Black, Michaela / Hickey, Ray (2008): Toward an Understanding of Flow in Video Games, in: ACM Computers in Entertainment 2008, Vol. 6, No. 2 (20). Csikszentmihalyi, Isabella S./ Csikszentmihalyi Mihly (1988): Optimal experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness, Cambridge University Press, New York. 35

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihayil (1991): Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Harper & Row, New York. Deci, Edward/ Koestner, Richard /Ryan Richard M. (1999): A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation, in: Psychological Bulletin, No. 125, pp. 627-668. Dean, Derek/Webb, Caroline (2011): Recovering from information overload, McKinsey Quarterly, URL:, accessed: 13.02.11 ESA - Enterntainment Software Association (2010): Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, URL: accessed:, 13.02.11 Fletcher, Dan (Time): The 50 Worst Inventions


URL:,28804,1991915_1991909_199 1902,00.html #ixzz1DT06nGG7 accessed: 13.02.11 Gallup (2011): Employee Engagement Index 2010 URL: I%202010.pdf, accessed 16.02.11 Grant, Adam M./ Parker, Sharon K. (2009): Redesigning work design theories: The rise of relational and proactive perspectives, in: Academy of Management Annals, No. 3, pp. 317-375. Grant, Adam M./ Shin, Jihae (2011): Work motivation: Directing, energizing, and maintaining effort (and research). Forthcoming in R. M. Ryan (Ed.), Oxford handbook of motivation. Oxford University Press. Herron, Rita B./ Sutton-Smith, Brian (1971): Childs Play. Wiley and Sons, New York. Hejdenberg, A. ( The Psychology Behind Games, URL: age=1, accessed: 13.02.11 36

Boardgame Remix Kit (Hide and Seek Production Ltd.): Official Website, URL:, accessed: 13.02.11 Huizinga, John (2009): Homo Ludens, Vom Ursprung der Kultur im Spiel, 21. Auflage, Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Hamburg. Humphrey, S. E., Nahrgang, J. D., & Morgeson, F. P. (2007): Integrating motivational, social, and contextual work design features: A meta-analytic summary and theoretical extension of the work design literature, in: Journal of Applied Psychology, September 2007, 92, pp. 1332-1356. Hunicke, R. / LeBlanc, Marc/ Zubek, Robert (2004): MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research, URL:, accessed: 13.02.11. Jones, Marshall G. (1998). Creating Electronic Learning Environments: Games, Flow, and the User Interface, Proceedings of Selected Research and Development Presentations at the National Convention of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. Kohn, Alfie (1993): Punished by Rewards The trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A's, praise, and other bribes, Houghton, Mifflin and Company, New York. Koster, Raph (2005): A theory of fun for game design, Paraglyph Press, Scottsdale, AZ. Lawler, Edward E./ Porter, Lyman W (1967): The Effect of Performance on Job Satisfaction, in: Industrial Relations, No. 7 (1), pp. 20-28. Laughlin, Andrew (Digital Spy Limited): Power Up!: The Gamification of Life, URL:

gamification-of-life.html, accessed: 16.02.11 Locke, Edwin. A./ Latham, Gary P. (2002): Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35 - year odyssey, in: American Psychologist, No. 57 (9), pp. 705717. Locke, Edwin A./ Latham, Gary P. (2006): New Directions in Goal-Setting Theory, in: Current Directions in Psycholigical Science, No. 15 (5), pp. 265-268.


MacMilan, Douglas (2011):'Gamification': A Growing Business to Invigorate Stale Websites,, cessed: 16.02.11 Maslow, A. H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation, in Psychological Review No. 50(4), pp. 370-96. McCarthy, Marcella (Medill school). Scientists outsource their work via computer game, URL:, accessed: 13.02.11 McElroy, Todd / John J. Seta (2007). Framing the frame: How task goals determine the likelihood and direction of framing effects, in: Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 2, No. 4, August 2007, pp. 251-256. McMillan, Zane (The State News): MSU programmers develop land mine avoidance game, URL: nd_mine_avoidance_game, accessed on: 13.02.11 Oechsler, Dr. Walter A. (2000). Personal und Arbeit: Grundlagen des Human Resource Management und der Arbeitgeber-Arbeitnehmer-Beziehungen, 7. Edition, Oldenbourg, Mnchen/Wien. Pink, Daniel H. (2010): Drive, The surprising truth about what motivates us, 1. Edition, Canongate Books Ltd., Edinburgh. Reeves, Bryon/ Read, J. Leighton (2009): Total Engagement, Using games and virtual worlds to change the way people work and businesses compete, 1. Edition, Harvard Business Press, Boston, Massachusetts. Salen, Katie/ Zimmerman, Eric (2003): Rules of Play. Game Design Fundamentals. MIT Press, Cambridge. Schanz, Gnther (1991): Handbuch Anreizsysteme, 1. Edition, C.E. Poeschel Verlag, Stuttgart Schell, Jesse (2008): The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Burlington. 38 URL: ac-

Schiller, Friedrich (2000): ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen, 1. Edition, Philipp Reclam jun. GmbH & Co., Stuttgart. Sicart, Miguel (2008): Defining Game Mechanics, in: The international Journal of Computer Game Research, URL:, accessed: 16.02.11 Sllner, Albrecht (2008): Einfhrung in das Internationale Management, Eine institutionskonomische Perspektive, 1. Edition, Gabler Verlag, Wiesbaden. Sutton-Smith, Brian (2001): The Ambiguity of Play, 2. Edition, Harvard University Press, Massachusetts. Twenge, Jean M./ Campbell, Stacy M./ Hoffman, Brian J./ Lance, Charles E. (2010): Generational Differences in Work Values: Leisure and Extrinsic Values Increasing, Social and Intrinsic Values Decreasing, in: Journal of Management, No. 36 (5), pp. 1117-1142. Von Rosenstiel, Lutz/ Regnet, Erika/ Domsch, Michel (2003): Fhrung von Mitarbeitern, Handbuch fr erfolgreiches Personalmanagement, 5. Edition, SchfferPoeschel Verlag, Stuttgart. Wang, Allen (Raptr Inc.): Raptr World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Report Top 11% of players generate +50% of total playtime hours, URL:, accessed 16.02.11 Williams, Dimitri/ Yee, Nick/ Caplan, Scott E. (2008): Who plays, how much, and why? Debunking the stereotypical gamer profile, in: Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, No. 13 (4), pp. 993-1018. Yee, Nick (2005): WoW Basic Demographics,The Daedalus Project, URL:, accessed 16.02.11 Yee, Nick (2006a): Motivations of Play in Online Games. In: CyberPsychology and Behavior, No. 9, pp. 772-775. Yee, Nick (2006b): The Labor of Fun: How Video Games Blur the Boundaries of Work and Play, in: Games and Culture, No. 1 (1), pp. 68-71.


Zynga Inc: Company fact sheet. URL: from, accessed: 13.02.11


Activison Blizzard (2001): World of Warcraft Nintendo (1985): Super Mario Bros Parker Brothers (1935): Monopoly Patschitnow, Alexei (1984): TETRIS Zynga (2009): Farmville


Ehrenwrtliche Erklrung

Ich versichere hiermit, dass die vorliegende Bachelorarbeit mit dem Thema: Turning work into play: How to use game mechanics to motivate employees selbstndig verfasst und keine anderen als die angegebenen Hilfsmittel benutzt habe. Die Stellen, die anderen Werken dem Wortlaut oder dem Sinn entnommen wurden, habe ich in jedem einzelnen Fall durch die Angabe der Quelle, auch der benutzten Sekundrliteratur, als Entlehnung kenntlich gemacht.

Ort, Datum

________________________ Unterschrift