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"All evidence suggests that your work one day will operate like a videogame to be conquered," writes Farhad Manjoo in The Wall Street Journal (1/13/14). Farhad’s evidence is the proliferation of ‘gamification,’ or the application of "the features that motivate players in videogames – achievement levels, say, or a constantly running score, into nongame settings." This is made possible in a workplace setting "because much of what we do in the workplace is conducted through software that can track our productivity, constantly measure our value and prod us to do better."

This is a natural for those in sales, especially, who "tend to be competitive by nature," says Steve Sims of Badgeville, a gamification-software company. Steve also sees it as a way to instill better habits, given that "sales guys tend not to care about the details, they just want to close the deal and get the money." By making the details part of the game – for example, awarding points for accurately entering client information into a database – they are motivated to "do things they really don’t want to do."

The same concept could motivate employees to collaborate, get more exercise, or book travel on a preferred airline, for example. Badgeville reports that "one test of deployment, among employees of software company Citrix Systems," resulted in "a four percent increase in employee bookings with preferred airlines and a similar shift to bookings made further in advance." The potential downside, Farhad notes is "the potential for stifling creativity and flexibility in the workplace, and the growing sensation of being watched, and measured, in everything we do."