It’s all fun and games

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Ideas Lab is the playground for a lot of new ideas and technology, so I frequently get exposed to everything from motion capture suits to silly mobile games. That's why this week is all about fun and games. I share the office toys, my thoughts on play at work, and the experience of my first ever game jam.

 

1. The office toys

If you work with a bunch of creatives and developers, chances are there are a few unicorns, nerf guns, and other toys scattered around the office. Ideas Lab is no exception. Thanks to our unicorn-obsessed office manager, the guys at Random Dragon Games, and other contributors, Ideas Lab has a considerable population of unicorns and dragons.

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Extra bonus: Developers at my former workplace, trivago, have dedicated an entire twitter account to their UX unicorn mascot doing office work. Brilliant!

 

2. The game jam

I attended my first ever game jam at Ideas Lab! With no background as a developer or experience in the game industry, I was slightly concerned about my contribution to the team.

But in the end there was absolutely nothing to worry about. We had a 24 hours deadline, a motion capture suit, delicious food, a few g+t. What’s not to like?

It was so much fun coming up with concepts, trying on the suit, and hanging out with the other labsters. When it came to the MoCap suit, everyone was a beginner, and we were just playing around with it and getting crazy ideas.

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3. The book

No blog post on games without mentioning game designer, jane McGonigal, and her first book on gamification, Reality is Broken, and her TED talk. This was what got me hooked on the idea of gamification in the first place. It's definitely worth reading.

...imagine if creating a unicorn twitter account had been an executive decision...

 

4. The thoughts on play at work

There’s no way of getting around that work, most of the time, is just… work. However, whether it’s joining a game jam or creating a office habitat for dragon plushies, we shouldn’t forget to have fun at work either. So with that in mind, here’s a few things consider when it comes to play at work:

Firstly, playfulness shouldn’t take away from the serious sides of work. One of my pet peeves is fun-themed meeting rooms. Maybe it's just me, but I find it increasingly difficult to have a serious conversation in meeting room that looks like the dinosaur-themed bedroom of a toddler. I'm aware that mixing meetings with dinosaurs is a personal preference, but nevertheless it's also important to know, when playfulness contributes to the experience and when it doesn't. Like everything else: There's a time and a place.

Secondly, playfulness only works when it’s facilitated - not forced. (Just imagine if creating a unicorn twitter account had been an executive decision...) Forcing someone to play is not play. It’s just more work. Playfulness needs to be a bottom-up approach. It’s about creating an environment where crazy, creative and fun ideas are initiated by employees and supported by the company - not the other way around.

Please, leave a comment and share your own experience with combining play and work.

And have a fun workday!