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A Skimmer's Guide to the Latest Business Books: Changing the Game: How Video Games Are Transforming the Future of Business

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The book: Changing the Game: How Video Games Are Transforming the Future of Business, by David Edery and Ethan Mollick; FT Press; November 2008.

The big idea: Video games are the next big thing in marketing as well as powerful tools for recruiting, training, and motivating people. And not just for the Transformers set. Those of us who haven't played anything since Frogger can benefit as well.

The backstory: Edery and Mollick are both orcs of the Dragonmaw clan. OK, not really. Both are affiliated with MIT. In addition, Edery is worldwide games portfolio planner for Xbox Live Arcade, and Mollick consults on innovation strategy for the military.

Ode to joystick: The book argues that because video games are more immersive than other media types, the advertising encountered therein provides greater punch. Intel successfully used a multiplayer game to promote its Pro processor technology to IT managers. To play the game, customers operated fleets of robots representing PCs.

If you read nothing else: Chapters Five through Eight describe how games can be used to manage and motivate employees. Edery and Mollick believe that even the most tedious tasks can be made fun if they incorporate elements of gaming. Their examples include Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) in-house competition to find bugs in Vista and a program that allows IT administrators to destroy errant code using an interface similar to that of Doom. Massively multiplayer games like World of Warcraft have improved leadership and collaboration skills. An IBM (NYSE:IBM) report posits that job applicants will soon be including gaming experience on resumés, and HR managers will consider it a plus.

You can skip: Enticing customers to innovate and creating prediction markets, the subjects of Chapters Nine and 10, have been hashed over enough already.

Second prize is a set of steak knives: The authors warn against recognizing gamers with significant awards, lest people cheat or morale among poor performers deteriorate. They prefer "leaderboards": all-in-good-fun rankings that promote status as its own reward.

Last updated: Oct 1, 2008

LEIGH BUCHANAN is an editor-at-large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture.
@LeighEBuchanan




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