Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Game playing pays off

My weekly book post on the s+b blog is about Adam Penenberg’s new book examining how video games are being used to enhance organizations and improve lives:

Cow Clicker, DARPA, and the Power of Gaming

I came of age playing pinball and was unimpressed by Atari’s Pong when it appeared in the mid-1970s
—even though it launched an entire industry. So, never having become an aficionado of video games, I was surprised that NYU journalism professor Adam Penenberg was able to hook me right from the beginning of his new book, Play at Work: How Games Inspire Breakthrough Thinking (Portfolio Penguin, 2013), an expansion of a Fast Company article he wrote in 2010.

Penenberg writes about Ian Bogost, a professor of interactive computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology who designs video games that lampoon society. One of the games Bogost created is named Cow Clicker. It’s a mindless pursuit in which you collect points for clicking on a cartoon cow once every six hours and getting the members of your social networks to click on cows, too. It was meant to satirize social media, but then it became a hit. In fact, when Bogost added mooney (which is purchased with real money) to the game, some players paid for customized cows and extra points. Then Bogost removed the cows altogether and all you did was click on an open field. Many players soldiered on. What better illustration of the extraordinary power of video games to engross people could there the rest here

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