Lately I keep hearing how we need to turn communication into a fun game.
At the Mesh11 conference,Gabe Zichermann talked about how marketing is becoming “gamified,” with badges, rescue missions and other techniques adapted from video games. As Gabe said, “The future is fun.”
This week the New York Times featured an article about how Groupon is using fun writing in its email marketing to become this year’s online success darling.
Sure, most workplaces encourage fun on special occasions. But usually there’s a thick black marker line between work and fun. Even in pro-fun offices, you hear: “We work hard. We play hard.”
But maybe that line is fading. Hooray!
The anti-fun campaign began in grade school when the teachers told us to stop horsing around. Yet the teachers I remember, and learned the most from, knew how to make learning fun.
At work, I’ve often gotten into trouble for having too much fun: for laughing too loudly, for not taking this week’s flavor seriously enough.
Yet, because I enjoy what I do, work is usually fun. What’s more, I frequently build in fun for others. For example, with the software engineer I’m about to interview, I’ll probably chat briefly, maybe say something funny, to put him at ease before I start asking questions.
I don’t know how I would have survived the treacherous passages in my life had I not been able to laugh. Even when I’m too grim to see the humour in my predicament, I can always find a funny TV show or other fun diversion to lift my spirits.
Like a game, I also give myself rewards when I complete a task, especially the ones I loathe. For example, when I finished my tax preparation, I let myself buy red jeans. Now I smile every time I put them on.
I love how blogging has allowed me to tap into my fun side. I would never have written about the relationship between laughter and peeing in the corporate world. But maybe I should have gone for more amusing anecdotes or wry comments, my personal brand of humour, though nothing sarcastic or mean.
In my writing training, I advise people how to use humour in workplace communication. Don’t you always remember the presenter who started with a good joke? Don’t you want to do business, and pleasure, with fun people?
I’m going to further explore this notion of gamification, which I had earlier written off because of my total lack of interest in video games and such. I see how mesmerized my teens get. I’ve always enjoyed board and card games. And, despite the best efforts of teachers and bosses, I never stopped wanting to have fun.
As Cyndi Lauper sang: “Girls just wanna have fun.”
Lucky for me, fun is becoming serious business.