The thesis is simple. Millions of people pay each month to participate in massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). I've tried them, and I have friends (and kids) that have been totally sucked into them. They punch a bunch of psychological tickets for humans: the game designers know what they're doing. The book discusses how this is done:
- an epic story line(we're saving the galaxy from the Crumlons)
- clear paths to advancement, with transparency about your skills and performance
- intensely meritocratic societies called guilds that work together in groups to accomplish major tasks
- strong social interactions with other people
- the ability to try, fail and try again rapidly, learning quickly
- the option to try on leadership roles
And then they go into the modern workplace, which is frequently as stultifying as these virtual worlds are thrilling. Fail!
Read and Reeves are convinced that at least some smart workplaces of the future are going to adapt some of the ways of the games to more fully engage their employees and become more effective as economic organizations. They don't have a magic formula for how to do this, but do invest a great deal of time analyzing what makes people inside these games tick and how those concepts transfer to the workplace.
Fascinating ideas, and well worth watching and thinking about.