Friday, December 30, 2005

It's all a game

In a blog, I read how IBM enters the gaming world and this brought me the idea that there may be more commonality between software development and online gaming then we might expect, such as

  • Team game
  • Strategic approach
  • Online community
  • Common goal
  • Common set of rules
  • Computer infrastructure
  • Continuous learning
One of the nice things about strategic games is that the game vendor has created a virtual world that contains almost every capability to face the game challenges in order to achieve the ultimate goal of the game. You can give instructions, set assignments, get status report of all kind of aspects, do what-if analysis, and much more. Everything is represented in colorful, 2-D or 3-D graphics, accurate reposiories of artifacts, drag-n-droppable, interactive, on-line multiplayer and joyful to do. And how much does this game cost? A few dollars or euros. How much time to install it, get it working, learn it? A few hours, or may be a day or two.

Compare this to the software development environment that an average software development organization provides to its developers and the costs and efforts that are involved in setting this up, determining the rules of the "game" (procedures, practices, workflows, quality criteria, etc.). Expensive CM systems, SDE tools, a lot of in-house made scripting to achieve automation and reporting in spreadsheets and intranet sites.

What if we would create a software development environment à la Command & Conquer or Pharao? What if we would make an interactive, on-line multiplayer game for software development? My first intuition says that it can't be done or else it would have been done before. My second intuition says that if we spend billions on movies and games in the entertainment industry and find millions of people enthousiastic about it, then apparently that's the way to get people moving.

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