Play at Work: How Games Inspire Breakthrough Thinking

by Adam L. Penenberg

ISBN: 9781591844792
Publisher: Portfolio/Penguin

A fascinating look at how games can help us learn, create, and innovate.

Once thought to be nothing more than diversions for children and nerds, games have become an integral part of everyday life. Educators are trying to make learning more fun by introducing games into the classroom while cutting-edge managers are doing the same in the workplace. Doctors, scientists, and entrepreneurs are deploying games to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

But it’s not the games themselves that improve our lives, but rather smart game design and its impact on the brain that can lead us to become immersed in a task we find enjoyable. The individuals and institutions that have used games to achieve this effect are often rewarded with astounding results.

Drawing on the latest brain science on attention and engagement plus his own firsthand reporting, Penenberg shows how games are revolutionizing business, science, technology and culture.

—Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup

“Gamification is a hot topic but few truly understand it. Engaging and filled with incredible stories, Play at Work explains how games can make us more efficient and creative. Drawing on copious research and interviews with an array of game designers, scientists, mathematicians, entrepreneurs, inventors, and government officials, Penenberg offers a new perspective on how to make play work for you.”

—Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and To Sell is Human

“From Tom Sawyer’s fence-painting scheme to Angry Birds, games have a unique knack for tapping the heart of engagement. Adam Penenberg takes you through countless inventive ways games can be designed to bring out our best thinking. This is a fascinating and entertaining exploration of that most basic of human proclivities: play.”

—Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock and Life, Inc.

“Adam Penenberg’s excellent new book persuasively demonstrates the power of gaming to motivate work. Filled with stories of companies who made the leap into playful productivity, it should be useful and inspirational for anyone looking at how to leverage the spirit of competition.”

—Gabe Zichermann, CEO of

“In this great and often funny book Penenberg shows how everyone from entrepreneurs to scientists is using gamification to create the future today. Don’t be left behind. Read this book to learn how the rules of business and life are changing.”

—Todd Henry, author of Die Empty and The Accidental Creative

“It’s happening all around us, but if you’re not paying attention you may miss it. Adam Penenberg provides an insightful guide into how gamification is infiltrating the marketplace and, more important, how it can be leveraged to make experiences more immersive and addictive. Read it, and prepare to see your everyday experiences through new eyes.”