IBM takes gaming seriously

June 24 2007

As most people who read this blog know, I spend a fair amount of time writing about games. Games I like to play, game news, game info, game pictures, etc. I love the ability to do something or be someone that you can not do or be. Gaming allows you to experience things that are not possible in the real world. Both positive and negative.

As many of you know, I am slowly 'unplugging' myself from the raiding guild lifestyle of World of Warcraft, but I have not stopped playing altogether. I love the game too much. What I could not do any more was the scheduled raiding of 5 or 6 hours a night for multiple nights a week. Too much effort, planning, and coordination mixed with real people's personality and drama just wore me down. It felt more like a job or school than a game.

What I find interesting is at the same time I am walking away from my second job, IBM is taking gaming seriously. Not just about hardware (IBM does make the processors for all 3 gaming consoles) or software, but how games influence people. How multi-player gaming can be a study of leadership and interaction. IBM has an web page called Game Tomorrow. Think of this is as the launch page for IBM's game research . There is lots of great information there. You can also check out the first issue PDF. You can also read the IBM and Seriousity whitepaper, Virtual Worlds, Real Leaders: On-line games put the future of business leadership on display here. You will see lots of references to World of Warcraft and other on-line games ... its a great read.

IBM is not just writing papers or studying gameplay. They are innovating. They are building a game for business. IBM will not call it a game ... they will call it a Business Process Modeler, called Innov8. IBM's press definition of what Innov8 is

A new, interactive SOA game called Innov8: A BPM Simulator, an interactive, 3-D educational game simulator designed to bridge the gap in understanding between IT teams and business leaders in an organization. This type of serious gaming -- simulations which have the look and feel of a game but correspond to non-game events or processes such as business operations -- has emerged as a successful method to retrain or develop new skills. This simulator is a result of the annual IBM SOA case study competition among graduate students at Duke University and the University of North Carolina. The game, which is played with a joy stick, is based on advanced, commercial gaming technologies and allows players to visualize how an SOA affects different parts of the organization. Together, users can literally see business processes, identify bottlenecks, and explore 'what if' scenarios before the SOA is deployed.
From what I have heard, it is really a Multi-player game based around a call center. OK, its not the sexiest locale ever ... but imagine a way to measure leadership, teamwork, and process with teams inside your company without putting your staff asleep. One note to IBM ... joysticks are not cool or current. W-A-S-D is where it's at. Thanks.

With all of the Web 2.0 technology from IBM this coming week (Lotus Connections, Lotus Quickr, etc), it seems that IBM is going for leadership, not follow-the-leader. A new vibe is in the air. Industry journalists call it gravitas. Nathan Freeman calls it cool. Personally, I think IBM is trying to be current and ahead of the curve. It is obvious that IBM is looking to new areas of technology and business to continue their market leadership. I think it is great that IBM has realized that if an industry, like video games, can surpass the music and movie industry, then it is time to take it seriously.

Final thought -  To quote the IBM Game Tomorrow blog ... What do you think…will all that game playing finally get you to the executive suite?