BVCA 2010: Gaming and the future of business

JP Rangaswami, chief scientist at BT Innovate, believes that the future of business lies in gaming - but not in the way you might expect.

During his keynote speech at the BVCA Digital Age conference, Rangaswami explained that the nature of gaming and the nature of business are converging - and that companies and individuals can both benefit from treating their experiences more like a game.

Rangaswami believes that the current situation - where business are "trying to force-fit many things that are [...] non-linear in their origin, flow rather than static, without the tools and techniques to be able to do it" - is untenable, and that a work environment can be made more efficient and more manageable by taking a lesson or two from gamers.

"The tools and techniques we will need," Rangaswami predicts, "will look very much like the video games of today."

Explaining his theory, Rangaswami explained that in his theoretical business future "work suddenly becomes people having missions - when you take a mission on, you have challenges, you have goals," in exactly the same way as a mission in a video game.

The most important tool that will transition from the gaming realm into the business realm is the dashboard, Rangaswami claims: "you need a dashboard, because when you play a video game one of the first things that the dashboard gives you is an idea of how much energy that you've got left, what rights you have to be able to do something, the context of physically where you are, you have the ability to figure out whom else you'll have to work with to conquer the environment or the goals."

Such information is precisely what workers need in order to work in collaboration effectively, which is why Rangaswami believes that the business tools of the future are going to look very much like the dashboards of games today.

Rangaswami believes that businesses can become inspired by gaming in other ways, too: game-based training for a "newbie" to the business will form an important part of the future, allowing everyone from secretaries to CEOs to practice the skills they need in a safe environment before moving on to the real thing; and the ability to stop, rewind, and experiment which is a vital mechanic of many games is something that businesses need to work towards implementing in their work-flow.

The final point that Rangaswami believes businesses need to learn from games is transparency: "in a digital world," Rangaswami explains, "everyone can see what you're doing - and we've moved into that world already."