Law’s got game

February 2, 2014

As ‘gamification’ seeps into our industry, what is – and isn’t – likely to change?

Photo: Shutterstock


Horrible word. Pretty horrible process.

But wherever you go – and we’re not just talking about those floppy-haired boys in TMT – people are flinging the word ‘gamification’ around as if it were a magic antidote to the ageing process.

What does it mean? According to OED, it’s ‘the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service’.

It’s all the rage. Marketing satans have been trying to influence our behaviour by making us play games wherever you look.

Think about online enterprises such as Foursquare, Fitocracy or Zombies, Run! and you’ve got the general idea.

People are making money here: there are Gamification Gurus (natch), off-the peg products and even a conference called GSummit. (That’ll be in San Francisco, then.)

And now it’s coming to a firm near you. Probably yours, to tell the truth.

This article on Law Technology Today (no, us neither) has a few things to say about how games can be used to increase engagement and efficiencies in the average firm. (‘Once you’ve experienced the power of fun to alleviate a tedious chore, you’ll start looking for ways to gamify your legal practice,’ it promises.)

So what’s going to happen, exactly? Well, here are our three suggestions about how games will influence law firms, then another three ways in which, sadly, they probably won’t.

What we’ll see

1. A  league in which practice areas compete with one another by accommodating online ‘badges’ in return for demonstrating excellent ‘business development behaviours’. Ten badges convert into a set of mugs with ‘Biz Dev Boffins 14/15!’ emblazoned on them in something vaguely approximating the firm’s typeface.

2. The creation of leadership training modules in which senior associates have to imagine they are Kings and Queens of Trollworld, leading little trollettes through challenging scenarios such as Realisation Valley, the Networking Forest and the Seventeen Caves of PEP.

3. An initiative to encourage timely billing, in which for every day in advance of the deadline you file your time sheets, the Senior Partner donates 0.00001% of his bonus to a charity of his choosing.

And what we won’t

1. A game based on Cluedo, in which the executive committee save money by not paying redundancy payments to useless partners, but taking them into the fourth floor kitchenette and bludgeoning them to death with a length of lead piping.

2. A game based on Mousetrap, in which everyone builds the most specious and unsustainable legal argument possible, and chortles when the whole Heath Robinson-esque claptrap comes tumbling down around their client’s ears.

3. A game based on Buckaroo, where everyone piles work onto an associate’s back until he has a physical fit and explodes, much to the relief of everyone else.

We’re interested in hearing your own predictions. AB

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