It is believed that gamification of business processes can motivate us by triggering elements of human psychology, writes Deepthi Ratnayake FHEA CITP MBCS.

Microsoft, for example, is investing $15 million to research ways of integrating gaming technology into the classroom. Goldman Sachs has predicted that by 2025, the virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) market will grow to $80 billion. But, does gamification of business processes increase security risks?

Immersive worlds of work and living

Before the pandemic, many of us used gaming technologies in our work applications in controlled environments such as research and development, education and training, or in safety/mission critical applications. The pandemic, of course, changed expectations around why, where and how people work.

Banks based in the metaverse, digital healthcare, virtual retail and online education aren’t mere concepts anymore. Businesses are adapting their processes and services to create spatial and embodied experiences, where users can explore websites like new worlds, create avatars and replicate real-world experiences through the internet.

The boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds continue to blur. According to Elliot Goykhman, founder and CEO of bank, Zelf: ‘The story of 2021 is that people started to spend oftentimes more on the outfits and skins of their virtual characters than on their real-life selves.’

Forget back to normal

Take the example of joining a future meeting from home in a virtual space. ‘Imagine a conference room rendered in 3D, complete with chairs, a table, a whiteboard, and coffee. As your colleagues join, you see their avatars enter the room and sit around the table. The meeting is an immersive simulation of an in-person meeting, created with the help of motion sensors that track physical movement’.

This has considerable advantages over current platforms like Teams and Zoom. AR, for example, makes it difficult for team members to slip off to do their laundry or multitask on other projects. That’s because their attention is fully committed to the virtual environment of the meeting.

As in the real world, there are rules which suggest how players interact, which keep the gaming system alive. The game master ensures these rules are followed while in real life this responsibility is carried out by human resources (HR), law enforcement authorities, courts and lawyers.

The War of the Worlds

Every online use carries potential risk. The list is long and includes personal safety concerns such as phishing, scams, malware, invasion of privacy and identity theft. Certain platforms carry risks of addiction, cyberstalking, cyberbullying, harassment, online predations and sextortion. These are especially concerning when it comes to safeguarding children and people with vulnerabilities.

Move gaming and gamified technologies into a business context and they create complexity. And of course, it is widely believed, within information and cybersecurity, complexity is security’s worst enemy.

In the world of work, productivity concerns can easily take priority over safety and security, mental and physical wellbeing. Recent research findings show that “attractive” avatars behaved more dominantly by standing close to other players. Over 90% of software developers are male. Design biases could lead to design flaws weakening the safety of avatars. Afterall, it is us humans behind these avatars.

Any system’s security originates in its design. Every non-considered possible breach or missing piece of information can later be used to manipulate the objects, their relationship or their interaction.

The landscape is moving quickly and many organisations are acting:

  • The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF) brings together the UK’s four central regulators to collectively tackle digital challenges: one is to enable responsible innovation.
  • The Digital Services Act (Europa) ensures a safe and accountable online environment for EU citizens.
  • California legislators are working on a draft Age Appropriate Design Code Act.
  • Other US initiatives are taking shape in the domain of federal regulation of AI and reforms of Safe Harbour protections related to user-generated content.

The effect of these laws will certainly be felt in other parts of the world. While many challenges remain open, entrepreneurs, policy makers, and HR leaders must collaborate to find solutions to make immersive worlds of work and living a great experience, not a virtual headache.