干工作就像是玩游戏?应该是这样吗?想象一下,你在办公室干活时就像是在玩《糖果粉碎传奇》(Candy Crush Saga),你的每一项专业努力都会被严谨地追踪,并给出分数,每打一关,都会因为表现卓越获得奖品。公司的所有行动都让人有实实在在的输赢之感,而这正是旨在让你上瘾、激发你每天早上回来上班的系统的一部分。

Is your job a game? Should it be?


Imagine if at the office you were made to feel like you were playing 'Candy Crush Saga.' Envision that every one of your professional endeavors was meticulously tracked and measured in points, that there were levels to complete and you were given prizes for excellence. That every workplace action provided a tangible sensation of winning or losing as part of a system engineered to keep you addicted, thrilled to come back every morning.


If your job worked like that, would you become a better employee? Or would you feel just the opposite-crushed by metrics, constantly watched over, infantilized by your boss's attempt to turn you into an automaton?


I'm asking you as if your opinion here matters. In fact, it does not. All evidence suggests that your work one day will operate like a videogame to be conquered, rather than a craft to be perfected.


The high-level name for this trend is 'gamification,' an ugly neologism that has seen terrific hype and terrific backlash in Silicon Valley over the past few years. The term refers to transferring the features that motivate players in videogames-achievement levels, say, or a constantlyrunning score-into nongame settings. Gamification systems are possible because much of what we do in the workplace is conducted through software that can track our productivity, constantlymeasure our value and apply incentives that prod us to do better.


At the moment, the stats on gamification's effectiveness are murky. There are several startups pushing the idea, and they could offer me only the barest evidence that gamelike systems might significantly improve how people work. But some gamification companies have grown rapidly, especially in systems for workers in sales and customer service.


Their nascent success should be a warning to us all: If you work in the information business; if you sell, market, create, track or are involved in any other endeavor that can be quantified, gamification is coming for you.


I, for one, am dreading it.

"游戏化"软件研发公司Badgeville负责解决方案和设计的副总裁西姆斯(Steve Sims)说,销售人员一般有好胜的天性。从事销售的人习惯于把自己的工作看作是玩游戏,他们为月奖争得头破血流,看到自己的业绩登上公司排行榜,这不是什么稀罕事。

It's no surprise that salespeople will be the first guinea pigs.


'Sales guys tend to be competitive by nature,' says Steve Sims, the vice president of solutions and design at the gamification-software company Badgeville. People in sales are used to thinking of their trade as a game. It's not unusual for them to compete for monthly incentives and to see their performance ranked on a company leaderboard.


Badgeville's software, which plugs into sales-management systems such as Salesforce.com's, simply adds sophistication to the old sales-rank whiteboard in the break room.

让人们去做他们不想做的事,事实证明这是职场游戏化的一项重要任务。去年秋天,美国运通(American Express Co.)的商务旅行预订办公室与Badgeville就一款软件进行合作,当员工选择管理者倾向的旅行方案时,这款软件会向员工奖励分数和虚拟商品等。Badgeville说,在对软件公司思杰系统公司(Citrix Systems)员工进行的一项测试中,该系统取得了积极结果。在使用该服务的第一个月,思杰员工预订公司首选航空公司的人次就增加了4%,提前预订的情况也出现了类似改观。

Here's one scenario Sims describes. 'Sometimes sales guys tend to not care about the details, they just want to close the deal and get the money,' he says. Managers, meanwhile, might want salespeople to do more: accurately enter their clients' information into a sales tracker, assess the quality of sales leads or track how often they are going to sales meetings. Badgeville's software can give points to salespeople who add in that information, turning what would otherwise be an annoying part of their jobs into a point of competition.


Getting people to do things they don't really want to do turns out to be a key mission of workplace gamification. Last fall, American Express Co.'s business-travel booking office teamed up with Badgeville on software that gives employees incentives like points and virtual goods when they abide by managers' travel preferences. Badgeville says that in one test deployment, among employees of software company Citrix Systems, the system yielded positive results, if just slightly. In the first month of using the service, Citrix experienced a 4% increase in employee bookings with preferred airlines and a similar shift to bookings made further in advance.


There are lots of similar scenarios where such systems might subtly influence the choices that employees make. Gamelike techniques are being used to push employees to live healthier lifestyles (your company might give you a wearable health tracker that awards badges for your weekend activity), collaborate with their co-workers (get badges for engaging with the office-based social network) and improve interpersonal skills (customers and co-workers might award you points for smiles).


Many of these sound benign. But what we can't tell is whether these measures are worth the cost-the psychic cost. What worries me is the potential for stifling creativity and flexibility in the workplace, and the growing sensation of being watched, and measured, in everything we do.


I've noticed this happen in my own field. Digital journalism has ushered in the era of quantified journalism, a field in which readership, social-media mentions and my bosses' return-on-investment on my work can be measured. I've been lucky to work at publications that don't overstress metrics. But still, the pressure to make the numbers has to be a part of every journalist's life these days. Every time I write a story that doesn't make the paper's most-popular list, I consider it a tiny failure. If I do that many times in a row, I begin to wonder if I should look for a new line of work.


You might say workers have always felt pressure to measure up to one benchmark or another. And perhaps gamification is better than other ways of altering what workers do, say, if your boss simply orders you to book all your travel two weeks in advance.

Farhad Manjoo