The increasing popularity of video games, which have infiltrated the realms of management and aesthetics, has increased the view of them as more than just a pastime. Video games can now be used to increase productivity and engage audiences, among other things. The old, rather narrow definition of video games is one that has shifted dramatically in recent years, with the advent of games that stretch beyond the reach of a stereotypical audience. Games are now so ubiquitous that the New York Times has begun reviewing them in its Arts section.
The democratization that gaming has unleashed on the world has wrought a subsection of creation that is continually manifesting itself in increasingly intelligent iterations that are both practical and aesthetically pleasing. "Gamers" can no longer be pigeonholed into formulaic identities like "geek," "millennial," or "social outcast." Gamers are the generators of an entirely new social sphere, which continues to branch out into other layers of social and demographic strata as businesses, individuals, and organizations discover the power of games in spurring efficiency, engagement, and healthy growth. Artists have embraced the power of games and the internet as inspiration for a new aesthetic ideal, both borrowing from and using the web as a medium for contemporary works, which often serve the dual role as social commentary and public platform for discussion, interpretation and invention.
The Philadelphia Cultural Management Initiative has spent the past few months scouring the web for examples of game based strategies used in daily practice, whether they be for aesthetic, management, or engagement purposes. The examples are endless, as the resources for building and sharing a gaming platform have become more accessible, and nearly expected by consumers who have grown used to participating in and digesting technological outlets.
A few weeks ago we spoke with the Philadelphia Game Lab about the rising role of video games, and we were particularly excited to discover that they are the organizers of the inaugural Grassroots Game Conference, held in conjunction with Philly Tech Week from April 23–April 28. The conference will explore the role that games have played in an increasingly wide array of fields, from business to education to art. The conference is not solely for tech junkies—the Game Lab stresses that anyone interested in learning how to integrate gaming into their organization's practices would benefit.
Of most particular note is the day devoted solely to "Games & Gamification for Non-Profits," which will be held on April 24 for advocacy, charity, education, and arts non-profits. The day focuses on educating attendees about gamification, with an introduction to the field at the start of the day for those who have less knowledge of this burgeoning sector. The rest of the day boasts discussions in using games for community engagement, volunteer recruitment, and fundraising. Click here for a full list of the day's events.
It was very heartening for us to discover that Philadelphia is playing an active role in investigating this developing sector further, especially as we continue our search for examples of the use of games in reinforcing and reinvigorating an organization's systems of practice. This is an ongoing research project for us, though how it will ultimately manifest itself remains to be seen. Stay tuned for more updates, and let us know if you've been using gaming in your organization's practices.