Millennial Engineers Think Everything’s a Game

July 27, 2017
How gamification is shaping serious industries and changing the world in which we live.

Whining about Millennials has become a pastime. Some (generally older) people say they have no work ethic, play awful music, and all want participation trophies. The increase in gamification is strongly associated with this generation, reinforcing the view that Millennials don’t want to work if they aren’t having fun and gaining some type of satisfaction.

Seeing this younger generation having fun and turning serious work into games has prompted the usual responses: “Grow up, be more professional.” “You need to take this more seriously.” However, so long as humans follow the path of least resistance and greatest pleasure, the results speak for themselves. Gamifying task incentives people to recycle more, subscribe to company newsletters, and do things they might not normally want to do. And having seen the result of gamification, as well as advances in gaming technology, the older generation seems to be getting over its grumpy state.

For example, doctors are using the same controls on the Da Vinci surgical system to play video games. Even though there are actual Da Vinci simulators, just playing regular videogames with the controls has led to increased proficiency and doctors training for longer periods.

But is it all just a game, or can gamification be used as a serious problem solving tool?

The answer is as simple as, well, playing an internet game. Fold It is an online game about protein folding. With 49,000 people playing over a ten day span, the game unlocked a structure of a complex protein that  had accomplished what stumped scientists for 15 years. Understanding the protein structure was imperative to developing lifesaving drugs to combat HIV.

This is how gamifying is changing industry today, but one industry has been into gamification for decades.

The movie “Edge of Tomorrow” was what DARPA might want to turn into a reality. The movie shows a soldier going through a war. When he dies, like a video game he restarts, learns from the error that killed him and progresses further through the war. Generally, there are two types of military gaming. War gaming is to develop tactics and strategies. By using artificial intelligence the military can create a virtual enemy and run simulations on how to beat it. This will be great training for when AI takes over. In addition, games are used for training. Simulations are able to put a soldier in multiple situations in varying environments. The goal is to have soldiers ready for anything.

With gamification playing such a big role in multiple industries, perhaps thinking everything is a game isn’t something to whine about. After all if “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely players,” today playing games is changing the stage.

About the Author

Jeff Kerns | Technology Editor

Studying mechanical engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), he worked in the Polymer Research Lab. Utilizing RIT’s co-op program Jeff worked for two aerospace companies focusing on drafting, quality, and manufacturing for aerospace fasteners and metallurgy. He also studied abroad living in Dubrovnik, Croatia. After college, he became a commissioning engineer, traveling the world working on precision rotary equipment. Then he attended a few masters courses at the local college, and helped an automation company build equipment.

Growing up in Lancaster County, PA he always liked to tinker, build, and invent. He is ecstatic to be at Machine Design Magazine in New York City and looks forward to producing valuable information in the mechanical industry. 

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