The Power of Play and Future of Work with George Kesselman

The Power of Play and Future of Work with George Kesselman
George Kesselman shares the key takeaways and the main themes of his new book "The Power of Play."

Fresh out of the studio, George Kesselman joined us to discuss his new book "The Power of Play". He shares the main themes and key takeaways on how games will drive the future of work. We began the conversation with George providing an overview of how work has evolved from a craftsman environment to the industrial age and explained why we need a re-thinking of work using game play. He dived deep into the different personas of gamers in work life and offered what success would mean for his book in redefining the workplace.

"Money is a very interesting kind of numerical way of measuring when you're levelling up. So that's where the distinction needs to be very clear. The way that I've positioned it in the book and what the research tells us is that if we force the games on people, it's very bad. But if we look at the games that they naturally played in their free time when they were younger, it's a very good predictor in terms of the type of work that they naturally would gravitate to. So if somebody is amazing and loves playing hours and hours of strategy games, and if we put that person in front of the machine, turning out widgets is going to be a very bad mismatch, and then we need to pay them a lot of money and continue trying to squeeze them to improve that performance. But if somebody is motivated by strategy games, and we give them the kind of problems that are very similar to the type of things that they naturally gravitate to they will be motivated. So we're not creating a new game for them, but we're looking at parallels and helping them to find that intrinsic motivation. And that's something that I think becomes super, super powerful where they then create their own games based on the work that we want them to achieve." - George Kesselman


The Power of Play. with George Kesselman

  • What is the inspiration behind "The Power of Play"?
  • Who is the intended audience of the book? 
  • What are the main themes and key takeaways behind “The Power of Play”?
  • You begin the book with a brief history of work and discuss the different demotivators of work: unlocking engagement & fulfilment, did the recent pandemic exacerbate these motivators when everyone went from one extreme in working from home to returning to the office? 
  • You broke up the different work eras in the book's first part. Let’s start with work 1.0. Can you talk about the legacy of work and explain the link between time and money?
  • Then comes work 2.0. How did the impact of the Industrial Revolution change how we conceive work? For example, in my parents' generation, they talked about lifetime employment, total quality management and Six Sigma.
  • How did the Internet Work revolution (or you term it 3.0) change the way we work?
  • Can you discuss the role of gamification in the workplace and clarify the distinction between superficial gamification and meaningful game design, as touched upon in the book?
  • There are different personas in games: the achiever, the explorer, the socializer, the challenger and the hybrid, how do these profiles approach games individually and in teams? 
  • What are the different motivations in work, and why did we choose money as the primary motivator? 
  • Are there other motivations that draw people towards work? Can you dive deeper into the intrinsic vs extrinsic motivations? 
  • How do we apply game development principles to work? 
  • How should work be changed or modified by game mechanics? 
  • What is a better predictor of success when matching people to work?
  • How do we test or gauge workers' performances in a remote or distributed work environment? 
  • What are other interesting stuff that did not end up in the book or if I may ask, are you planning a sequel? 
  • What does success mean to you for the readers who learn from your book?


  • Any recommendations that have inspired your life?
  • George's recommendations: Reconfiguring your kids' play space without digital devices and getting a good night's sleep
  • How can my audience find you?

Podcast Information: Bernard Leong (@bernardleongLinkedin) hosts and produces the show. Proper credits for the intro and end music: "Energetic Sports Drive" and the episode is mixed & edited in both video and audio format by G.Thomas Craig (@gthomascraigLinkedIn).

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