IBM embraces gaming to train, develop employees

The business technology consulting firm is turning to games for employee training and inter-departmental communication.

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Businesspeople often talk about working hard and playing hard. At IBM, they’re becoming one and the same.

People have “an inherent playfulness,” says Chuck Hamilton, virtual learning leader for IBM@Play, the division behind creating games for talent development and growth. For a few years, IBM has worked on tapping that playfulness to teach complex ideas.

This year, IBM unveiled the Smart Play framework, which an introductory video calls “a platform for engaging the single-player and multi-player dissemination of a best-practices playbook.”

Measuring how that framework affects learning is still in the offing, says Hamilton, but IBM is already connecting its global workforce and the wider Web more effectively.


IBM’s first gaming trial balloons went up in late 2008, Hamilton says. Soon, IBM@Play was experimenting with using games for training and other purposes. The first thing it did was to look online at a popular, multiplayer role-playing game.

“We looked at the leadership skills that were apparent in ‘World of Warcraft,'” he says. “That’s what started to lead us to where we are now.”

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