ARTICLE BY GREENLIGHT INSIGHTS

The world population is roughly 7.5 billion. Of these, 1.8 billion identify as "gamers." Research has shown that, rather than promoting violence, gaming increases mental ability, develops leadership and social skills, and improves professional performance. Despite this, video games are continually dismissed as an entertaining distraction. With the advent of VR and AR, the line between what is a "game" and what is an "experience" will continue to blur. The innovation of the gaming industry will trickle across industries, raising the quality of every virtual experience that has been created. Video games also teach one other important lesson that most companies have failed to learn: the importance of making a task fun.

Gamification

People do not have to play video games. It is silly to state this fact. The incredible majority of money and time invested in gaming is voluntary. People choose to spend hundreds on a console, spend thousands on games and accessories, and repeat this process every few years. In contrast, people need to be paid to work.

This is the partly societal function. People need to earn an income to live and support their lifestyle. Yet as gaming has become a career - from YouTube streamers to eSports - gaming professions are becoming as revered and sought after as athletic superstars or Hollywood celebrities. People want to do what they love for a career.

The simple truth is that people love playing games because they view the experience as fun and rewarding. This feeling of achievement and enjoyment does not need to be restricted to video gaming space, especially with the introduction of AR and VR to enterprise space.

Take ITI's new industrial crane training simulator, which uses VR to train employees to operate expensive construction rigs. This sim has the appearance of a video game. With minimal additional steps, ITI could increase the "fun" of the project by designing challenges and incorporating an achievement system. Something as basic as a high score would encourage friendly competition between co-workers, all the while increasing the time spent strengthening valuable job skills.

ITI could also encourage its employees to play similar experiences, given the transitive property of gaming skills. Employees would feel that their employer wanted them to have fun - thus raising morale - while giving voluntary hours to the company.

There is not a single industry that could not benefit from the gamification of its workflow. Earlier articles have already discussed its benefits on exercise and education, but the possibilities go far beyond. The problem is that designed experiences must capture the core emotions of gameplay, rather than its appearance. The fleeting fad of "edu-tainment" games proved that consumers are not fooled by boring tasks in video game disguise. Industries looking to use VR/AR to train employees would be wise to incorporate gaming into their programs. The best tools are ones that the user wants to keep using.

The plethora of elaborate creations in Minecraft shows how much time users will devote to creation when they are having fun.

IT ALL STARTS HERE

To steal E3's slogan, gaming will be the industry where VR/AR advancements are made. Many talented programmers are already hard at work to improve upon and attempt to replicate Pokémon Go's success. The skills they are learning as they work can be easily transferred to other industry verticals. Likewise, gaming will break through many of the barriers currently imposing on VR/AR design.

Movement, for example, is an unsolved issue in a VR experience. Teleportation is the common solution but this lacks immersion and is counter-intuitive to the nature of the platform. It is popular because it does not create nausea or dizziness that still plagues VR user experience. Nevertheless, VR users will walk and then run - and it will happen in gaming first. Survios' Sprint Vector is a VR game where users run at full speeds (without actually running) and do not throw up. Its climbing mechanics, at least in the early build, need work, but this does not dull Sprint Vector's achievement.

This gaming-lead innovation will be passed into other industries. Training programs in VR will improve dramatically once users are able to move freely without fear of nausea. The same is true for VR design and architecture applications.

Controller interfaces like the Vive Wand and Oculus Touch also owe much to gaming, as both of their designs were inspired by advances in the console gaming controls (the Wii remote can be seen as a Wand ancestor). Many of the ongoing haptic technology experiments are occurring hand-in-hand with game experiences designed to use that content. Gaming is being used as a testing tool and as a proof-of-concept.

Conclusion

Gaming is not a simple distraction. It is a virtual arena where users can polish different skills while acquiring new traits. Not all games are created equal and thus not all can be used in the ways described above. That said, it is not as isolated a field as many businesses like to pretend. VR/AR are going to blur the lines even further. Expect the most talented VR experience users, as well as the best developers, to have a background in gaming.