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Computer games harness the wisdom of the general for discovery tasks, to perfect internal organizational knowledge and are also used by researchers and managers. Serious games

This is serious, this is not a game
This is serious, this is not a game

Dafna Raban and Ganit Richter Galileo

How can you bring together an organizational need and an employee's internal motivation? How can an employee contribute to the organization overt and hidden knowledge without feeling that he is going to a great deal of trouble? In short, how do you have fun at work and also make a significant contribution?
The unique composition is obtained from the combination of two concepts that have generated great interest in the scientific community in recent years: serious games and the wisdom of crowds.

Here we will present a first development of this interesting connection that began in the IBM research laboratory in Haifa in collaboration with the School of Management, the Department of Information and Knowledge Management at the University of Haifa.

Serious games

What is a serious game? Serious games are games whose purpose goes beyond enjoyment to also learning and training. Serious games are frequently implemented as part of the training process in professions such as teaching, medicine, aviation, rescue forces and business. Apparently, a game is what "isn't serious". In our minds, it belongs to entertainment and leisure, but with the improvement of computer games, the spread of network-based games and the mixing of the fields between games and simulations, the game is taking a dominant place in today's cultural structure.
Computer games permeate the world of children into the world of adults. In the United States today, more than 65% of households play computer games, and the average age of the players is 34. The distinction between a game and a serious occupation is getting blurred. Computer games were an important driving factor in the economy, society and the development of technology. The gaming industry is growing: the annual growth rate of game sales in the world currently stands at 9.1%.

New and sophisticated games require a constant upgrade of the personal computer, huge sums go from hand to hand in buying virtual means and tools such as game money, goods and services, products and accessories complementary to the game. The generation that grew up on video games as part of the culture has matured and entered the workforce, bringing with it patterns it knows from the digital world, and is looking for ways to continue acting through the game in its tasks as an adult.

James Sorowitzki, a popular economic columnist in the "New Yorker", published in 2004 a fascinating book called "The Wisdom of Crowds". And what is that crowd wisdom? The book claims that under certain conditions the wisdom of the crowd is greater than that of the great experts within it. Wikipedia is one of the famous examples of the wisdom of the crowd, both in the creation of the entries by unknown or identified writers who were not chosen by the editor, but volunteered; And they are thanks to the millions of people who are engaged in correcting and improving the values ​​at any given moment.

A study conducted by the journal Nature shows that the quality of this folk encyclopedia is almost in no way inferior to the quality of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which was edited and written by world-renowned experts (and saw a frame). The collaboration between a large number of research laboratories, which made it possible to isolate the SARS virus in the epidemic that broke out in the Far East in 2003 in only about a month, is an example of the "wisdom of the crowd" because no single laboratory would have achieved this feat, which resulted from the pooling of knowledge in all the laboratories together .

Ultimately, the wisdom of the crowd is the main resource of the Internet. Whether it is searching for information, creating content or sharing and recommendations, the network is the "provider of answers". Where is there a traffic jam now? Looking for a review of a movie or a recommendation for entertainment? Who is expected to win the election? The network offers answers to everything. The wisdom of the network is not derived from a single source of information, but from the huge number of websites and users, and data collected from users on an ongoing basis.

Today there are several applications that utilize the "wisdom of the crowd" to perform tasks such as solving problems, building databases, designing and characterizing a product, and for tasks that traditionally involve expensive and time-consuming processes. The navigation application Waze, for example, which allows you to enjoy notifications about traffic jams based on data collected from the masses of users in real time, is one of the active applications of the idea of ​​crowd wisdom.

When pleasure and work meet

The connection between serious games and the innovative idea of ​​the wisdom of crowds seeks to get people to make an intellectual contribution to advancing a goal or solving a problem through the human enjoyment of a game and the need for escapism. In this way, for example, Google creates labels for image files with the help of the ESP game.

Serious games, based on the crowd, are built on the idea that each of us is not only a consumer of information, but also a producer of information, both on a personal and organizational level. The IBM research laboratory in Haifa is engaged in the development of a game aimed at creating business agronomies (terms) in an interactive and competitive way. A term that normally takes weeks to develop is built through the game in a few hours.

The game is a trivia-like competition on topics relevant to the organization. This is an individual game that includes a scoring and ranking system. The analysis of the information, which the system collects during the game, makes it possible to extract useful information for the organization according to the problem presented in the game question.

Systems and organizations can benefit greatly from the new possibilities that come from the meeting between the wisdom of crowds and the development of technology, and the connection between them and the growing popularity of online games. This is a field that is an active research arena and requires learning how to exhaust the possibilities inherent in it.

Dr. Dafna Raban, Ganit Richter, Haifa University School of Management, in collaboration with IBM's Social Technologies Group 

for further reading:
To read more about mob games and serious games, go to the website wiki-game of Haifa University.

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