Clive Thompson at Wired reports on how the competitive nature of games can be injected into everyday mundane tasks making them more fun and more interesting. You are probably already familiar with the way Nike Plus injects game-like qualities into your everyday cardiovascular workout, but Thompson highlights some other examples including; digital gas mileage readouts in hybrid cars being used for hypermiling games, Dennis Crowley’s pub-crawling based Foursquare, and, get this – a “game” built into corporate email aiming to reward a reduction in email volume.
Every employee is given virtual tokens — say, 100 a week, — that they can attach to e-mail they write. If you really want someone to read a message now, you attach a lot of tokens, and the message pops up higher in your correspondent’s Outlook inbox. Reeves figured this would encourage people to send less e-mail: Those who are parsimonious would wind up with lots of tokens, which means when they really have something to say, they can load it up with tokens and make sure it’ll get through. Sure enough, that’s what happened.