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Gamification in the corporate world so far has looked mainly at employees - or specifically white collar workers - who use computers and digital devices to interact with business systems. Blue collar workers, like those who are at an assembly line in the automotive industry, seamstresses, room maids in the service industry, or garbage collectors, present a different challenge for gamification designers. They may not use digital tools such as computers for their work on a regular base, and they often perform monotonous and mind-numbing tasks that cannot be changed or varied much. To understand them and their motivations, as well as their specific needs, we need to look at how blue collar workers see themselves, what their values are, and how they deal with monotony.
Blue-collar workers, while they operate the machines know that they do not have control over production tools and facilities. The owners decide what is produced, by whom, and where. What sounds like coming from Karl Marx directly, is in fact coming from him (and others). Before you go into a lengthy discourse about communism vs. capitalism, stay calm. Knowing this and understanding how blue-collar workers see themselves and what they value, gives us a clue of what a gamification-design for them needs to accomplish.
Because of the perception of their jobs, blue-collar workers respond to praise from a supervisor or manager different than white-collar workers. Especially if the praise seems not result from what blue-collar workers value most. What they value is meaning, dignity, and self-determination of their work. This does not mean that white-collar workers are not valuing those as well. But blue-collar workers tend to compare themselves to lower and higher status professions more often than white-collar workers do . And they tend to mistrust white collar workers.
When those values are not satisfied, they lead to job alienation, disengagement, and in the worst case to outright sabotage. However, those values are coming close to what gamification is about. Let's take a closer look at those values.
Just Imagine, how cool it would be, if you could see that your plant is producing, because smoke appears out of it? Or see that your purchase order arrives tomorrow because the truck is so near at your plant? See live when a new unit was produced and added to your stock. See immediately that a KPI in your plant was exceeded because it flashes red. And never loose your ticket numbers and action items again, because you have a virtual desktop that remembers everything.
That was the idea behind a gamified manufacturing process that Team ERP Gamification chose as demo contribution at the SAP Gamification Cup this summer. Using the Unity3D engine to create a Virtual Reality allowed to improve real world mediation and cognitive perception of the manufucturing process. Clustering the plant, the customers and vendors around you - compare how the popular facebook-game Farmville clusters the farms of the friends in your social network around your own farm - and seeing trucks delivering the raw materials and the final product rings way better with a workforce raised with videogames.