According to a report from The Washington Post, Amazon has created video games designed specifically for its warehouse workers,aimed to help them relieve some of the tediousness out of the repetitive work of filing orders.
But don’t be confused: these games don’t come in the way of work, on the contrary.
The games are displayed on screens at every employee station and they actually reflect real-time work in a game-like environment. For example, while the robots send the shelves up to every workstation, lights indicate which item the worker needs to grab and place in a bin and stack them up nicely. It’s more or less like Tetris, but in real life.
While there are no pictures to show us how they look like, employees have reported playing race car and puzzle games with names like MissionRacer, PicksInSpace, Dragon Duel, and CastleCrafter. According to the report, the style and graphics are reminiscent of classic Nintendo games.
The games are tracked, the tasks are counted by scanning devices and they can even put individuals, teams or entire floors against one another by rewarding the employees with points, virtual badges and other goodies of the kind.
Playing the games is voluntary and the employees can switch from game mode into normal working mode at any time.
This move comes at a time when most of the Amazon warehouses employ the use of robots, which causes most of the employees to spend time sitting in front of their computers, directing the machines.
For now, the games are being tested in five of Amazon’s fulfillment centers, with the company saying that it wants to create a more interactive work environment after a number of employee complaints accused Amazon of making them feel like ‘cogs in a bigger machine’ due to the company’s relentless push for automation.
Amazon also has not released any details about the impact the games have had on the employee productivity so far.
While playing games might make work more bearable, especially in warehouse environments, Jane McGonigal, a video game designer who has studied ‘workplace gamification’ has understandably said that “competition is only enjoyable for a short time. As soon as workers start underperforming against their colleagues, it becomes less fun and can actually be counterproductive.”
Amazon said that it does not penalize its workers for not participating and that it doesn’t track the game results either but it’s worth mentioning that the company does track its warehouse employees for speed and efficiency and those who do not raise to the desired level can get fired for not meeting the set standards.
However, some of the anonymous workers interviewed by The Washington Post did admit that the games have been efficient in providing them with some relief from the monotonous, repetitive work they have to perform daily.