Magazine article CRM Magazine

My Latest Excuse: Love the Player, Hate the Game

Magazine article CRM Magazine

My Latest Excuse: Love the Player, Hate the Game

Article excerpt

I MENTIONED LAST MONTH that I'd finally gotten around to reading Jane McGonigal's awesome book, Reality Is Broken, and I'm here to tell you I'm angry at myself for having put it off as long as I did. The writing is clear, friendly, and insightful; the subject matter is compelling; and the conclusions have done no less than completely restructure my conception of myself.

It turns out I'm not lazy at all--I'm gameful. I don't procrastinate--I voluntarily increase my challenge level by adding unnecessary obstacles. (The former is properly treating the element of play as important in life; the latter is part of the definition of a game.)


While I do plan on using those terms to describe myself more favorably in the future, I'd be wrong to suggest that McGonigal's book (and the other awesome work she's done in support of gamification) is just an excuse manual for slackers. But there's something about it I can't ignore, which should become clear to you as you read on.

Pressure makes me better at almost everything I do; I'm reliable in the clutch. The feeling of working at the edge of one's abilities in a high-pressure situation is what McGonigal refers to as flow, and flow is highly addictive. Flow is what Neo felt in The Matrix when he was being force-fed his training regimen, or when he was so in tune with the simulation that he performed at the level of Morpheus or an Agent. People who cultivate an air of serenity, finishing tasks sooner rather than later but without hurrying, are cheating themselves of the rush you get from being in a rush.

The pressure trick only works well when it's voluntary, though. Some of the most soul- (and health-) destroying jobs are the ones that force workers into stressful situations and place arbitrary roadblocks in front of them. Contact center agents and other customer-facing workers without power to effect change are usually the go-to example of this.

When I'm not in the mood to get stuff done (more often than I care to admit), my game is to find other activities to burn up time until the situation is more urgent. When the clock is ticking, I shine. When it's not, I shirk. …

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