I flew home from the KM World conference last night, where I delivered a presentation on Grassroots KM and the learnings I’ve had over the past four years. The long doze-and-reflect time the two long flights afforded made me realize I have a lot to say about the applications of gaming to KM and learning. After all, Iâ€™ve been involved in multiplayer online gaming for about 20 years and online communities for about the same amount of time. KM and e-learning have been my work bread and butter for almost the past 10 years. Iâ€™ve thought for a long time that the human social dynamic present in games parallels that of business interactions, but the time wasnâ€™t right for companies to make the leap of understanding required to â€œget itâ€.
In 1997 I made a presentation to executives at GE, showing them chat bots and suggesting that scripted bots would be a great interactive tool for delivering web site FAQs, and that online chatting would be great for customer support. Beyond the oohs and aaahs and smiles from the demos I provided, nothing happened. The ideas were good, but it was just too early for the group I had to see the possibilities. For a long time Iâ€™ve felt like that where mentioning my gaming passions at work are concerned. What I discovered from the interest shown at the KM World conference was that business executives are interested now. More than interested…excited and even hopeful that a more game-like approach will increase the effectiveness of and participation in KM and learning systems.
What excites me about the confluence of gaming, learning and knowledge management is its potential to reignite the enthusiasm of workers and open their eyes to a new way of interacting as they work toward shared goals. MMOGs provide new cultural and social worlds, where everyone starts on an equal footing, and traditional barriers are largely removed. Worlds where technology, social interaction, and thinking help people to do things they care about. Experimentation and personal choice are emphasized, and result in creative approaches to problem solving and learning–skills that can be brought back into the workplace.
Many business people donâ€™t play MMOGs, so in coming days I will spend some time describing the environments and interactions, so executives can see the parallels between gaming and â€œstickinessâ€ and business applications. Here are some of the topics I plan to explore, and I’m sure there will be more! Got any other suggestions?
The parallel between the management/leadership of knowledge communities and the evolution of leadership/government in massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) The gaming experience, and how it parallels both life and work A vision of a KM system that would be game-like and foster very interesting dynamics that could engage participants in a way that has never been done What KM has to learn from e-learningâ€™s experiences with simulations Gaming as a subversive business activity Implications for the workplace and learning
Iâ€™d welcome you to discuss and debate these topics with me as I develop them further!