The fun theory

A while ago I was running a workshop on career choice. After we had explored all the various things that one should be doing to increase one’s chances of making a good decision, one of the participants looked at me with a rather glum expression and said ‘That sounds like too much hard work! Even though I know I should do it, I’m not sure I will. It’s not much fun.’

I had to agree with her. The way I was presenting it made it sound really onerous, responsible and worthy. Surely, there must be another way!

OK, The Fun Theory isn’t a career theory, it’s not really a theory at all. It’s a competition and marketing initiative by Volkswagen which involves coming up with ideas to encourage people to do responsible things (such as recycling and doing more exercise) by making them more fun. See the video below for a way to get people to take the stairs rather than the escalator.

There are more videos on the Fun Theory website.

However, I did a tiny bit of searching and came across this article which is focused on educational computer programs but has some interesting points…

Malone, T.W. (1981) Toward a theory of intrinsically motivating instruction. Cognitive Science: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 5(4), 333-369.

Malone identifies three fun factors that make for successful games:

  • Challenge — if the level of challenge can be adjusted to meet the abilities of the player.
  • Fantasy — if the player is stimulated to use their imagination in creative ways.
  • Curiosity — if information is presented in novel or intriguing ways and the player is allowed to choose their own path through it.

One of the things I already do is to think about the level of challenge each career management activity might pose to people and get them to think about building confidence with easy steps first. For example, a step-by-step framework for building useful relationships has proved very helpful to people who are apprehensive about networking. However, I don’t think I am yet anywhere near entering the realms of fun.

Perhaps the answer is to develop a career management role playing game. Anyone want to help me?

  • What do you do to make career management education fun rather than daunting?

Related post: Storyboarding

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