Gamification and multigamification in the workplace: Expanding the ludic dimensions of work and challenging the work/play dichotomy

Special issue: Experience and Benefits of Game Playing

Gamification approaches in the workplace are encountering strong and passionate critics as well as dedicated proponents as the very notions of games, play, and work are being reconsidered and reframed. Workplaces are incorporating increasing varieties of concurrent and emerging games; some of these games are directly linked to how employees are projected to produce value for an organization and are paid and promoted, while others can be recreational, educational, or even medical (involving health diagnosis or treatment). In effect, many workplace settings have become the platforms for multiple, sometimes interlocking sets of rules, enforcement mechanisms, and related gaming structures. “Multigamification” approaches explicitly recognize game-related complexities and interactions, and provide means for mitigating cognitive overload, character conflicts, and other concerns. Participants can be immersed in technology-enhanced games that infuse social, medical, and economic themes either as a part of strategic initiatives in gamification (and multigamification, as described in this paper) or through emergent and less-tightly structured efforts. The overall wellbeings of organizational participants may relate in some way in how they engage in specific games as well as to how they deal with multiple games either in sequence or simultaneously; one or more games can be designated as “work” and others as “play,” sometimes reflecting traditional narratives that contrast labor deemed as “productive” with recreation. Developers can become active in exploring and tailoring games for specific workplace contexts, addressing issues of intergame compatibility, theme interaction, and synergy as well as participant overload. Multigamification can involve forms of competition among the games themselves as they compete for the limited attention of participants. This paper also addresses the challenging policy and design issues related to workplace games’ effects on participant wellbeing. Emergence of nested and overlapping gaming spheres can increase the complexity of organizational life as well as expand its ludic dimensions.

gamification; surveillance; workplace recreation; serious games; multigamification; employee wellbeing; multitasking
Author biography

Jo Ann Oravec

Author photo Jo Ann Oravec is a full professor in the College of Business and Economics at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater in the Department of Information Technology and Supply Chain Management. She received her MBA, MS, MA, and PhD degrees at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
She taught computer information systems and public policy at Baruch College of the City University of New York; she also taught in the School of Business and the Computer Sciences Department at UW-Madison as well as at Ball State University. In the 1990s, she chaired the Privacy Council of the State of Wisconsin, the nation's first state-level council dealing with information technology and privacy issues. She has written books (including "Virtual Individuals, Virtual Groups: Human Dimensions of Groupware and Computer Networking," Cambridge University Press) and dozens of articles on futurism, disability, technological design, privacy, computing technology, management, and public policy issues. She has received more than twelve hundred academic citations of her journal articles. She has worked for public television and developed software along with her academic ventures. She has held visiting fellow positions at both Cambridge and Oxford.

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