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Life is a Game: The Gamification of IT

Today, life really is all fun and games — even at work. With the gamification of the workplace and the consumerization of IT, this shift is apparent in homes, cars, schools, prisons, courthouses, workplaces, airports, shopping malls and more. The Apple iPhenomenon, mobile apps popularity and social media craze started a revolutionary movement all over the world: fun is required.

In the 1990s, the PC found a fanatic audience in consumers all over the world as people started using computers not as business tools but as conduits for fun. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) like World of Warcraft, minesweeper and chat forums created a new market for virtual goods and services that has reached monumental heights. And consumers drove this market into prosperity, spending billions of dollars on online games.

The Internet sparked a new virtual demand that seeped into every facet of our modern world, making IT tools a cornerstone of our new e-culture. And online games are the winner. Over 67% of smartphone users access gaming apps, making it the most popular mobile app category. And with the rampant success of the $16 billion online gaming industry and $7 billion mobile apps market, businesses everywhere are trying to capitalize on gamification in their own tools — making “fun” a requirement for all technology, not just our IT devices.

Take a look at how the “fun” IT trend has transformed our everyday tools.

1. Chalkboards: Classrooms and boardrooms everywhere have thrown out their chalk for new interactive whiteboard technology, which enables students, teachers and brainstormers to “write” on and digitally engage with websites, art and documents. You can even dissect a frog — virtually. No chalk required.

2. Maps: Remember those huge paper things your grandpa pulled out of the glove box on a camping trip? Today, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are in vehicles, airplanes and smartphones with “fun” touchscreen interfaces, Internet connectivity and 3D mapping — Homer Simpson will even give you directions.

3. Books: eReaders make more than just book reading possible. Shop, archive and share books, magazines, newspapers and more from anywhere. And with the new Kindle Fire, you can surf the web, download and play with apps or listen to music.

4. Household appliances: They’re so shiny! Forget about vacuuming — Roomba can do it. And with interactive touchscreens, even kids like doing their laundry and making their own after-school microwavable snacks.

5. Cars: Today’s automobile dashboards look like video game consoles. With fancy lights, TVs, iPod synch, GPS, voice commands and even refrigerators, we love driving around in a real-life video game.

6. Banking: Remember when you had to actually go to the bank? With ATMs that let you deposit checks, take out cash, transfer money and check your investment accounts, you don’t even have to get out of the car. In fact, you can just stay on the couch with online banking and shopping.

7. Music: We’ve digitalized everything, from how we play music, record it, save it, share it and even sing it. And with technology, anybody can be a rock star thanks to streaming sites like video giant YouTube.

8. Typewriters: Face it. Typewriters were never cool — just more efficient. And now with PCs, tablets, smartphones and laptops that enable you to write that memo, surf the web, join video meetings, send emails, hangout on Facebook and shop online … do I even need to finish this sentence?

9. And, finally, the telephone: Siri says, if you’ve ever used an iPhone, you know. Oh, yes, you know.

What else has been fun-ified by technology? And where does technology go from here? Tron? Fahrenheit 451? Or is the mobile gaming cloud ready to burst, dot-com style? Share your thoughts here.

About Blakely Thomas-Aguilar

Blakely is a work-life juggler with three little monsters, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book-a-holic, Atlanta transplant and PR/social/content strategist (and presentations nerd) for PGi.

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