Is gaming a hot new trend in employee communications?

Your company may soon be using interactive games to teach employees, reach the public and market products.

When the Internet powerhouse Yahoo wanted to teach ethics to its employees, it faced a challenge familiar to multinational companies.

Yahoo employs nearly 14,000 people at 25 sites worldwide. Some work in environments where, say, a local inspector might hint that building permits would come through more quickly if somebody slipped him an envelope of cash.

But let’s face it: Yahoo’s tech-savvy staff would chafe at sitting down in front of a dated video in which actors with 1980s haircuts enact ethical dilemmas. So it hired a Georgia-based company called The Network to animate a game that involves a flying trailer, as well as a click-and-drag Q&A in which you feed wrong answers to a piranha named Ramon.

Yahoo isn’t the only company that is discovering the merit of games in communications, marketing and learning. Last summer Cisco Systems deployed a game by Juxt Interactive and No Mimes Media for its annual sales meeting. Jumping in on a thriller-like plot, the game forced staffers to use company technology as they untangled an international conspiracy.

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