by Steve Bamhegyi

Gameplaying in corporate

PM Psychology

There seems to be some benefits for the company where workers apply "game analogy" to get on with their job
Gameplaying in Corporate

Ever hear talk in the workplace about someone being engaged in 'playing games'? Well, maybe that someone is smarter than we think because using a game analogy to think about almost everything you do, has the potential to make life in all its aspects much more rewarding, interesting and fun. 

Whether it is soccer, chess, baseball, your relationships, religion, the economy, tertiary education or any other aspect of human endeavour, the basic principles of game apply.

Might your attitudes and behaviours toward your key relationships change if you experienced their underlying game nature?  Might you feel a little more lighthearted and creative? Would that be useful?


In the context of organisational life, many seem to think that gameplaying is something done outside of working space and working hours.

Work is work and fun is fun, and never the 'twain shall meet. People often even talk about their work as being 'serious' and their leisure activities as being 'fun'.

But true gameplayers have uncovered the secret of having fun and getting the results they want, simply by understanding the game and applying principles of game theory to everything they do. 

The way in which you think and talk about your experiences not only describes but makes those experiences ‘real’ for you and others.

Understanding that game structure underlies all human experience is both helpful and empowering: those who see it as ‘real life’ tend to have a serious approach that is not particularly helpful in the creative process.

And serious thinking may also set them up for the anxiety and worry, which are precursors to stress-related disorders. 

A game is defined as a learnt cultural sequence characterised by rituals, rules, roles, resources, goals, language, values and style.


  • Goals – While the attitudes of gameplaying should always be lighthearted, often the outcomes of games such as M&A, restructuring, rightsizing and day trading can be deadly serious. Every game has a goal, even if the goal is simply to continue playing the game in a sustainable manner or to win. While soccer, rugby and cricket matches come to an end, with winners and losers, the game continues – season after season. Typical goals of business games may include sustainable profits, the creation of wealth and having rewarding interpersonal relationships. For organisations, goals are normally articulated in vision/mission statements and in strategic plans. On a personal level, your narrative or 'story' articulates your goals as experienced through your identity.
  • Language/Stories – Each game has its own language that allows participants to talk about (and even create?) common experience. The game of Law, for example, requires that many years be spent at university and doing articles. During this period, the budding lawyer will come to know a language that not only allows the experience of law, but it also acts as an effective ‘barrier to entry’ to non-lawyers. But lawyers are not the only ones with a unique language: every field of human endeavour has its language, set of symbols, metaphors and figures of speech that are continuously repeated.
  • Resources – It is likely that 'money' springs to mind when you hear this word, but resources also mean emotional support, know-how and process knowledge, equipment, networks, access to information, support systems and 'people you know'. The question of resources asks you to make clear what is it you actually need to make the game work. You may also wish to see a well-designed vision or goal as a resource.
  • Style – Style is the way you play the game. Style embodies your behaviours, thoughts and words. Irrespective of what you are playing, you bring your unique personal style to the game. Style is learnt and developed over time and is strongly influenced by role models, self-perception and particularly by feedback. Much as sportspeople view videos of their performance in order to improve themselves, feedback allows you to see which behaviours provide the desirable outcomes.
  • Values – Values are standards or qualities considered worthwhile or desirable. They are abstract ideas about what an organisation/society/community believes to be good, right and desirable. They represent your deeply held beliefs demonstrated through day-to-day behaviours and are the fundamental principles that guide community-driven processes. Values provide a basis for action and communicate expectations for participation, and make a public pronouncement about how the organisation expects everyone to behave.
  • Rules – In order to play a game well, you need to be clear about what the rules are (both written and unwritten) and work with them, stretching the boundaries where possible. Rules stipulate what can and cannot be done, and not playing by the rules means you risk penalty or even exclusion from the game.
  • Roles – Every human being plays a number of different roles in day-to-day life. In addition to the kinship roles (you are someone’s child, lover, brother/sister, father/mother etc.), you probably play many different roles in the workplace as well.
  • Rituals – A ritual refers to speech, action, singing and other activities that often contain a symbolic meaning, performed in a specific order. In organisations, audits, year-end functions, team building and weekly meetings are examples of typical rituals.


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