Friday, January 25, 2008

Yay! "Alternate Reality Business" makes annual "Top 20 Breakthrough Ideas" List

Harvard Business Review publishes an annual "Top 20 Breakthrough Ideas" issue; it's always a fascinating mix of strange and cool and often a little subversive thinking.

I'm quite happy that my idea to apply alternate reality game theory to doing real business and real research has made the 2008 list!

You can see all 20 breakthrough ideas online, including my article "Alternate Reality is the New Business Reality", and some other ideas I just love and think are really important -- such as Tamara Erickson's "Task, Not Time", and Dan Ariely's "How Honest People Cheat" and the "Transit Camp" (Sick Transit Gloria) project.

Here's a short excerpt of mine, which is a rather bold forecast (but one I think is actually a quite high probability):

In the coming decade, many businesses will achieve their greatest breakthroughs by playing games—specifically, alternate reality games, or ARGs. Custom-designed ARGs will enable companies to build powerful collaboration networks, discover solutions to specific business problems, forecast opportunities, and innovate more reliably and quickly.

Why? ARGs train people in hard-to-master skills that make collaboration more productive and satisfying. Playing an ARG teaches 10 collective-intelligence competencies. These include cooperation radar, a knack for identifying the very best collaborators for a given task, and protovation, the ability to rapidly prototype and test experimental solutions. Using these skills, players amplify and augment one another’s knowledge, talents, and capabilities. Because ARGs draw on the same collective-intelligence infrastructure that employees use for “official” business, games will map directly to a familiar reality—no translation required.

As these competencies mature within a business, ARGs will provide a truly stimulating framework for doing everyday work. Few meetings are as engaging as an ARG, whose emerging narrative evokes players’ shared sense of urgency and whose puzzles and clues deepen their curiosity. The structure for collaboration is clear, with players rallying around explicit goals and continually sharing theories, tactics, and results. Playing also generates compelling momentum: The puppet master monitors and rewards participants’ efforts, and times the release of new challenges so that players experience multiple cycles of success.


FUNNYMAN said...

Making a successful business is a tough job.

'O' said...

GameSetWatch has a piece about the convergence of media and its effect on games. If anything, the time is ripe for ARGs to take over, what with all the mobile tech and social networking. Of course, creating business applications for it require an intellect bigger than mine.

Can there be an ARG for people like me who don't like to leave the house? (Semi-joking.)

Jay D'Ambrosio said...

Good entry!

Over the past few years I have developed an educational alternate reality game for my ancient history classroom. Students will be challenged to develop their critical thinking skills, locate information using real world resources, and practice creative problem solving. Participants will attempt to solve an archaeological mystery by infiltrating a secret society, and answering initiation questions regarding history, science, mathematics, world languages, and the arts. They will need to contact various fictitious characters via email, telephone, text messaging, and instant messenger, who will provide clues that will allow them to continue their quest to discover the truth about a terrifying artifact known only as the Hexagon.

The Hexagon Challenge

This format can easily be adapted to fit a wide variety of learning objectives. It can be a powerful tool for corporate training and instruction.

Ian Wojtowicz 6.0 said...
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