You may think of gaming and the workplace as incompatible concepts. The former is usually thought as being fun, entertaining and trivial, while the latter is often typecast as important, structured and serious. However, more and more businesses are starting to realise that the world of gaming has much to offer the world of work. Sometimes dubbed “gamification,” business tools are starting to adopt a number of game-based features in order to improve employee engagement and productivity.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Gaming and the workplace: One is fun yet trivial, the other is typecast as important.” hashtags=”cloud, gaming, IBM”]

Expanding on this trend, IBM has created its own project looking at the business applications of gaming. IBM Serious Games, built on the SmartPlay Framework, uses games, not as a leisure activity, but as a means of tackling important business challenges. These Serious Games allow participants to sort and analyse data, overcome real-life issues and test potential solutions. The game play element helps employees to remain focused and establish a clear goal-orientated method of work.

The exact makeup of a Serious Game will depend on the industry, its target audience and the decisions taken by the development team, but there are usually a number of common features. Video simulation often plays a key role and participants learn by doing, rather than simply watching or listening. Already, Serious Games have been used in a number of industries, from healthcare to the military, as well as in schools and universities. Below we’ve highlighted some key examples of how IBM is using gaming to do more than simply entertain.

Project Ares

Cyber-attacks are rarely out of the headlines these days, and it is increasingly important for individuals to know how to defend themselves from malicious actors. Project Ares has been developed to guide users through the ever-changing research and strategies relating to cyber defence.

Using a massively multiplayer artificial intelligence based platform, Project Ares uses a combination of real-time threat intelligence, a nextgen AI engine and natural language dialogue provided by IBM Watson to provide cyber warfare training. Users can select missions, each with their own distinct backstory and bespoke skills, and choose whether to attack or defend IT infrastructure. Mission objectives are broken down into smaller objectives and the in-game avatar named Athena provides helpful guidance throughout.

[easy-tweet tweet=”The game helps trainees to better understand the modern-day cyber-attack landscape” hashtags=”cyber-attack, cloud, tech”]

The game not only helps trainees to better understand the modern-day cyber-attack landscape, it also allows security trainers to oversee progress and keep up-to-date with each user’s individual strengths and weaknesses, meaning that Project Ares can serve as both a training and recruitment tool.

Medical Minecraft

As well as providing practical applications in the workplace, Serious Games can also be used to educate participants of all age groups. Using the hugely popular sandbox game, Minecraft, combined with the power of IBM’s Watson and a bespoke plugin, developers can incorporate cognitive computing into the game, letting users learn about a number of real-life concepts.

As an example, IBM made Watson Dialog for healthcare accessible through a Minecraft plugin, which let players ask Watson questions about diseases and their best possible treatments. Similarly, a Disease plugin was also introduced to show how infectious diseases spread in the game, mirroring a real-life epidemic. By using the vast stores of knowledge at Watson’s disposal, Minecraft provides an entertaining way for participants to engage with any number of educational topics.

All work and no play

As businesses continue to search for ways to boost productivity, many are turning to Serious Games as a way to get their employees more engaged while at work. By incorporating game-based elements, organisations can both educate and entertain in equal measure.