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The Productivity Game

Advancing a corporate skill that is not well taught
  [vote for,

This is an online game that will teach young people a very important skill for when they enter the corporate world.

You start out by getting assigned mundane, very tedious tasks, such as dragging and dropping 25 images of toothpicks from one side of the screen to the other one at a time. But before you start the task, you are asked to estimate the amount of time it will take to complete it.

Now, internal to the system and unknown to the player, there is a "time expectation" set for each task. This expectation is usually way too large (say seven hours to complete the toothpick task), but the player is unaware of this. After you set your estimate, you immediately score points for the difference between your estimate and the system expectation (if it is lower).

You then must complete the task - but here's the secret: you score double points for the amount of time _after_ you actually finish the task, and _before_ you click the "report task completed" button. This is called your "goof-off" time. It is important that you fill this time by doing other things, such as playing other computer games, sitting staring blankly at the screen, posting ideas on the half-bakery, or chatting online. Just be sure every now and then to "alt-tab" back to the game screen, for safety. The idea is to get your tasks done quickly and correctly while maximizing your goof-off time without overestimating the completion time.

A few stipulations:

- If you do not complete the tasks successfully, you will be "fired" and you will lose.
- If your estimates are consistently over the expectation time, but your tasks are always completed successfully, you will either remain playing at your current level forever, or you will be "let go", depending on the game conditions. Don't worry, if you are "let go", you get a "severence package" of a whole bunch of points.
- If you manage to maximize your goof-off time while also maximizing your estimate vs. expectation difference, you will score big points, and you will soon be promoted to "manager". This is highly desirable, because almost all of the time for this level is goof-off time, as long as you are diligent and successful in setting other new players up with new meaningless, tedious tasks.

globaltourniquet, Mar 07 2008


       Your idea is sound if one has never learned these skills prior to entering the workforce. That might be considered odd by some but I suspect any fast food employer may agree with your premise but not your solution. Please excuse me belaboring the point.   

       Although the Productivity Game as described accurately reflects the corporate world in general (particularly when unions are involved), it should not be suggested that it is ‘not well taught’ to most. Most of us learned this technique when dealing with parents and other authorities at a very early age.   

       For instance, taking out the garbage is a premium opportunity to go outside to play but one is not graded until they come back inside. The natural instinct is to milk the chore for all the play time possible without getting a whipping. Like the Productivity Game, there is an unknown time limit but in a child’s real-world case, they quickly learn that the limit varies (shrinks) with age and/or maturity level and, of course, with the mood of ones draconian overlord.   

       This process in children is called maturity but in the corporate world it is referred to as promotion. In the real world, promotion does not always mean an adequate pay increase and is viewed as a penalty by many. It too should be part of the Productivity Game as in ‘gaining the next level’. The next level is important because of the advancements in the environments allow for new strategies.   

       It doesn’t take long for youngsters to appreciate the merits of conflicting tasks. As in having to feed the dog and take out the trash. One would think the two tasks are independent but not necessarily mutually exclusive, however the clever youth will make them mutually exclusive claiming incompetence (i.e. a dull blank look). But they also know instinctively this won’t play forever so you could let your gamers run that gambit only a couple of times.   

       Importantly, the more advance ‘Artful Dodger’ will explain to the task keeper that, in an attempt to save time by doing both trash and dog tasks concurrently, disaster stuck when the dog ignored its food and instead attacked the trash with the net result of additional time (post-determined). This was spent doing both chores plus trash cleanup duties. The child (player) scores extra play time, sympathy points, but loss of points by gain in maturity (for cleaning up the mess). However, maturity gained (and points lost) are easily restored by kicking and swearing at the dog being careful not to invoke the whipping penalty clause. This may be difficult to simulate in your game because beating and swearing in the workplace is generally frowned upon.   

       Soon children learn Pre and Post-negotiation skills and the fine arts of trade in both time frames and task scope. Older children have after-school activities which make it almost impossible to get teenagers to do anything. This stage for teenagers, with good negotiator skills, is so powerful that the above previous skills could be quickly forgotten as you have suggested. These negotiation concepts could be a sequel to your initial offering but only with constant refreshing of the aforementioned base skills.   

       And another advance sequel. Unless one has older siblings, they may not have learned union rules where there is penalty points for even short burst of hard work unless they are made in the nick of time. Points can be scored by knowing when and how often to whine to Shop Steward (Union Overlord).   

       And let’s not forget proper interviewing for jobs, overtime, and sick days.   

       I think this game has real promise and so I’ll give you a [+]. You could make real money at this.
CwP, Mar 07 2008

       Works for me, or should I say "doesn't work for me". lol!
quantum_flux, Mar 10 2008


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