A few weeks ago I was invited to a ski week with a group of student entrepreneurs. The average age was 21 and I was clearly the old guy at 41 years old. But while I was clearly the more senior person in the group I was definitely not the most mature. Far from it, I was the most childish one.
I was so excited to be back on a mountain again and the snow conditions were perfect. I couldn’t hide my excitement. The students were more businesslike and well composed. I kept challenging people to snowball fights and had to apologize to an elderly French guy who I had mistaken for a student. I threw a snowball straight into his face from at least 30 meters away. Only when I approached the guy and he started swearing in French did I realize my mistake. Oh well.
At the TNW offices in Amsterdam we all spend a lot of energy in coming up with jokes to pull on each other, and I can’t leave my phone unguarded for even a minute or someone will tweet something embarrassing on my Twitter account, or change the wallpaper. Joking around is actively encouraged at The Next Web and people take it seriously.
This past week, Patrick and I have been away from the office and I can’t wait to get back to find out what practical jokes everyone else came up with while we weren’t there. I also specifically instructed them to have a party or two, really misbehave and take photos but not leave any traces.
There seems to be a misconception about business that it should be serious. Sure, we are serious about what we do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun doing it. We joke around with each other, with the people we work with, with our shareholders and with our readers. Playing games is part of our company culture, and we are damn proud of it too.
Of course there is more to gamification than just playing games. That is why we have dedicated this whole issue to it and asked people who know more about the subject than we do to tell you about it. I also hope it will inspire you to add a game element to your business. I’m sure it will be rewarding, and fun.