What is a game?

Nice interview by Aleks Krotoski on the Guardian’s Tech Weekly podcast this week with game developer Jane McGonigal. In it, McGonigal quotes from a Canadian philosopher Bernard Suits that “a game is an unnecessary obstacle that we volunteer to try to overcome”.

She goes on to say that the volunteering aspect is what makes the difference between whether we experience positive or negative stress in trying to achieve a task.

It chimed with me, and not just in the context of games. Work in general is (in the great scheme of things) a series of unnecessary obstacles. The difference as to whether people thrive in trying to overcome those obstacles is whether they see their work as something they have options in, or just something that they are forced to do.

Bad management misunderstands the former options as “do the job or just resign and work somewhere else”. Employees who probably do need to move on are the ones who think that they have no options and everything is enforced.

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