What Leaders Can Learn From Game Design – Part 2: Relatedness

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What Leaders Can Learn From Game Design – Part 2: Relatedness

A coffee mug resting on a napkin that says take time to play
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Quick question for you: would you rather play a game by yourself or with others?

Self-determination Theory suggests that autonomy, relatedness, and mastery are vital human motivators, whether we are talking about working in the office or playing a video game. Every brain in the world is different, but for most of us, most of the time, we would rather play games with others than alone. As the title of a just-published study puts it, “Fun is more fun when others are involved.” Science confirms time and again, that relatedness – connecting to others and feeling something in common – is a key internal motivator.

Recommended training from HRDQ-U

Gamifying Your Leadership: Boost Employee Engagement, Productivity and Your Bottom Line

Connecting with People

The best games not only get people playing together but get them interacting more with each other. When a game or an experience delivers relatedness, it satisfies a core human motivator and engages us that much more. A lot of word games existed before Words with Friends became a smash hit, but I believe it was the “with Friends” part that made it such a success.

When I was designing Choose Happiness at Worka key turning point was when I realized that players should be able to openly debate which solutions are the best. Early versions of the game had players providing the executive with solutions face down, without discussion, and the executive would just read the solution cards and pick a winner. However, the game was missing something. It was missing relatedness and more connection between players. By changing this, and allowing open, informal, and often funny discussion, the need for relatedness was met.

How can you design more relatedness into your work? How can you get more discussion going on your team? How can you use the core human need to connect with others to motivate yourself and those you work with? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions.

Resource for Connecting People

Cultivate relatedness with Choose Happiness at Work. This card game consists of over 50 workplace scenarios and over 100 science-based solutions. Each solution falls within one of four categories: (1) practice positivity (2) subdue stress (3) flow to goals, and (4) revitalize relationships. These cards offer a way to discuss and resolve problems at work to create a happier work environment.

Headshot of Scott Crabtree
Scott Crabtree

Scott Crabtree is the founder and chief happiness officer at Happy Brain Science. Scott believes we all have the potential to thrive at work. He empowers individuals and organizations to apply cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology to boost their moods and their brains on the job. He is also the creator of Choose Happiness at Work, which engages adult learners in a unique and powerful way. It is a powerful tool that engages learning, application, humor, and team building in a fun, facilitative experience and it teaches science-based tools in a way that allows people to safely raise and discuss issues, build trust, and boost engagement.

Scott’s recent clients include Microsoft, Activision, HP, DreamWorks Animation, Intel, Boeing, and Nike. His insights have been quoted in US News and World Report, Fast Company, Inc., InfoWorld, Fortune, and VentureBeat among other publications.

Connect with Scott on LinkedIn.

Recommended Training from HRDQ-U
Gamifying Your Leadership: Boost Employee Engagement, Productivity and Your Bottom Line

Employee engagement is just like a great video game with Autonomy, Relatedness, Mastery, and Surprise: Learn how to add elements of games in business.

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