Gaming as a source of innovation and engagement

Gaming is the new black. It is also a source of innovation and engagement. It probably started with “The kids are all right”, which one of the first books we read about gaming and how it impacts business and the next generation of human capital. “Fun Inc.” explains the importance of the gaming industry and also starts talking about gaming as the future interface for product and services.

Pancake people (gaming is bad for your)

The Shallows” and “Future Minds” warn about the dangers of computer games and how our brains, and particularly the brains of our children are being rewired and possibly not in a good way.

What to believe?

I have always been in two minds about it. I am an avid gamer myself. It started when my parents gave my brothers and me a Commodore 64. Many happy hours were spent playing games such as Blue Max and Ghost Busters. Nowadays I play the Xbox360, playing games such as Halo and Mass Effect. Great escapism. My son is a gamer too. He and his friends play online on games such as FIFA and Call of Duty.

There was always the concern (and guilt) about time better spent, whether it is an unsocial activity, how it impacts on behaviour, does it dumb down, etc.

No longer concerned

No longer. Gaming is good for you. It makes you happier, more sociable and develops a whole range of skills that will make you a better person. “Reality is broken” explains how big gaming has become, how the science of happiness and gaming go hand in hand and how gaming could be applied to solving some of the big problems we are facing.

The gaming industry

Gaming is now a 68 billion dollar industry, over half a billion people play games, and they play on average two hours. 97% of all youth play computer games. On Warcraft alone people have clocked up a staggering 5.93 million years of playing. Each day 30 million working hours are spent on Warcraft. We will all become gamers. If we are not already.

 Gaming makes you happy

Why is gaming so powerful? In two words? Positive psychology. I am sure you familiar with the term “flow”. There is not enough “flow” in real life. Gaming fulfils the need for achievement, hard fun and is truly engaging. It hits 3 of our happy hormones. Norepinephrine, Epinephrine and Dopamine. Pride, arousal and satisfaction. Gaming activates us emotionally in a way that school, work and a lot of products and services are not. And there lies the kicker.

Ignore gaming at your peril

  • If you believe that a brand is the sum of shared experiences (experience being the operative word), if you believe that products need to be compelling within seconds because of our shortened attention span and information overload, then you cannot ignore gaming.
  • If you want to retain your talent and get the best out of your staff, you cannot ignore gaming.
  • If you are an educator and you are teaching pupils who now have experienced true engagement and fun, you cannot ignore gaming (schools are boring!!). Have a look at Quest for learning, a school in the USA based on gaming principles.

10,000 hours

Kids spent about 2000 hours reading and 10,000 hours playing games. That is the 10,000 hours threshold Gladwell refers to in Outliers for being extraordinary.

Imagine now using gaming to effortlessly engage people in developing their skills and talents. 10,000 hours of fun and learning. As a result, we will have a lot more happy and extraordinary people starting businesses, solving problems, working in your organisation.

Applying gaming to the future

Which brings us to the last part of the book. What happens if we apply gaming to the future of our planet? Multiplayer foresight? Playing in a world without oil? Using crowds, collective intelligence and super gaming talents cooperating and co-creating, playing the scenarios and coming up with the solutions?

Business and gaming

That is where I got lost. Gaming as a tool to create utopia. But I can see that as a business, gaming principles could be applied to innovation, marketing, branding, organisational development, work and product design. In fact, I think it will be inevitable.

The good news is that for you to understand gaming, you will have to start playing yourself. Buy an Xbox, buy Halo and start playing. Gaming as work. Which is the point.


sensemaking cover


Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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