Total Engagement: Using Games and Virtual Worlds to Change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete by Byron Reeves and J Leighton Read

Reviewed by Bob Little

Bryon Reeves and J Leighton Read believe that multiplayer games will redesign the parameters of ‘work’. To reinforce their beliefs and help them come to fruition, they have written ‘Total Engagement’ (Harvard Business Publishing, $29.95) and subtitled it: ‘using games and virtual worlds to change the way people work and businesses compete’.


Reeves and Read examine what virtual people, money, teams and leaders could do for business. Their argument is that games require teamwork, elaborate data analysis and strategy, the recruitment and retention of top players and quick decision making. Recreating some elements of games, such as positioning tasks within stories, creating internal economies and implementing participant-driven communication systems, not only boosts employee engagement but also boosts overall productivity.


‘What if your employees could solve customer problems, design new software or configure better shipping routes working inside a game environment at work?’ ask Reeves and Read. The operative words in that sentence are ‘what’ and ‘if’. It is now only a few years since the advent of ‘serious games’ and the manifestation of virtual worlds such as ‘Second Life’, yet these things have already been relegated to the backwaters rather than the mainstream of corporate learning and development. Unfortunately, there seems to be nothing in this book to warrant pushing them back into the main current.