What if work were a video game?

That’s the enticing title of this week’s Sway podcast, which I highly recommend. I had high hopes for this conversation, but unfortunately, the title doesn’t quite cover the contents. Although Kara Swisher asks the question right at the beginning and Phil Spencer (the head of Xbox and executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft) answers, it doesn’t go any deeper than that. Mr Spencer remarks that video games, whose sales have soared during Covid, could offer lessons for the workplaces that have moved online in the pandemic:

“When you put players together in a virtual space, you can level the playing field for everybody, everyone feels equal and can have their own identity, their own screen name. And as we look at the workplace going online, or hybrid work environments, you might have some co-workers that are together in one place and others that are on the other end of a call. We look at these virtual spaces, and some of the things that we’ve learned in video games of people coming together to cooperate together, to achieve tasks. Can we take learnings from that and look at what the next evolution of Teams might be?”

Phil Spencer on What if Work Were a Video Game?

Why do I recommend the episode anyway? Because the gaming industry has long been familiar with avatars, virtual worlds, online economies and monetization. And when you listen to the remainder of their conversation and read between the lines, every topic they discuss has implications for work in the metaverse: from the treatment of female players to what constitutes harassment to moderating behaviors and conversations. When you listen to this conversation from that perspective, you’ll gain valuable insights that can be applied to the virtual world of work.