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Amazon is turning its warehouses into arcade games, or something

Is this real life?

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Image: Orlando Sentinel

Amazon has been trying to lift the tedium of working in its warehouses by turning work into a video game.

A new report from The Washington Post has the skinny, with warehouse drudgery being turned into in-game actions. Think things like Tetris, but in real life with packages and racing games where your car’s progress is determined by your picking speed.

No, really, we’re not inside a simulation, this is real life

Here’s more information about Amazon’s IRL gamification efforts:

  • Points win prizes (or at least virtual badges or other goodies – think of it as PlayStation Trophies or Xbox Achievements, just given to you at work)
  • The program is opt-in, and was created as “a response to worker complaints that Amazon’s push for more automation has made laborers feel like cogs in a bigger machine”
  • Games are named things like MissionRacer, PicksInSpace, Dragon Duel and CastleCrafter; and resemble early 8-bit console games
  • Five warehouses from suburban Seattle to Manchester in Britain are trialing the gamification efforts
  • Amazon says it doesn’t monitor game results or penalize workers for not participating
  • There is an anonymous mode for workers that want to play, but don’t want to appear on leaderboards

It’s a double-edged sword, with Jane McGonical, a video game designer who has spoken extensively about gamification and its benefits, saying: “competition is only enjoyable for a short time …  As soon as workers start underperforming against their colleagues, it becomes less fun and can actually be counterproductive.”

I can’t wait to see how Amazon handles quarterly performance reviews now.

What do you think? Is this an interesting way to motivate works or does it make light of an employee’s work efforts? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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