If only the real world where more like a video game…

Last year I read an interesting article in Time magazine that predicted the future of the business landscape would look a lot like World or Warcraft. I know what you are thinking… and no, it wasn’t predicting a world of goblins in business suits and negotiations with battle axes. What it did predict was a highly collaborative and merit based system much like the game. Which in my opinion is exactly what this world needs to get on track.

As a freelance web designer, I am no stranger to this collaborative and merit based landscape. For me, collaboration is an essential tool for handling larger projects and easy to do in the digital workplace. The internet has made it possible to work with and for people that you may never actually meet in person. Rob Carter, Chief Information Officer at FedEx explains the concept very well:

WoW, as its 10 million devotees worldwide call it, offers a peek into the workplace of the future. Each team faces a fast-paced, complicated series of obstacles called quests, and each player, via his online avatar, must contribute to resolving them or else lose his place on the team. The player who contributes most gets to lead the team — until someone else contributes more. The game, which many Gen Yers learned as teens, is intensely collaborative, constantly demanding and often surprising. ‘It takes exactly the same skill set people will need more of in the future to collaborate on work projects,’ says Carter. ‘The kids are already doing it.’

Imagine the potential of a working environment where employees can collaborate from virtually anywhere in the world and be rewarded based on their contributions. The success of business would no longer be limited by local intellectual resources of an area. Also, people will be more motivated if there is a direct relationship between the quality of their work and their compensation.

Recently, I stumbled across a great TED talk by Jane McGonical that extends upon this thought. She views this gaming culture as a catalyst in the evolution of humans into “super powered hopeful individuals”. She believes that the if we could redirect the energy and skills of the gaming community towards real world issues, the results would be unbelievable.

What excited me the most about her talk was how low-energy game systems and wireless internet would contribute to online gaming. Jane predicted in the next decade there would be an increase from 500 million to 1.5 billion online gamers. Think about that for a second, in ten years, a 1/4 of the world’s population will be interacting with each other through games. If games have access to 1/4 of the worlds population, imagine what other ideas and information the world will have access to.

Games aren’t going to solve the world’s problems, but will undoubtedly effect our culture in the future. The world will become smaller and people will be rewarded based on their hard work. It’s both an exciting and scary prospect. Competition will be fierce because employers can hire people from around the world. People will expect to be paid based on their contributions and not their seniority. It will be a competitive environment, but through competition, comes innovation.