Wednesday's opening keynote at IBM Connect 2013 came in three parts, which continued to reinforced the idea of purposeful application of social in a business environment.  

Editor's Note: Watch the live stream of the keynote

The highlight of the keynote was gamer and speaker Jane McGonigal, author of “Reality is Broken”. The central thesis: play increases engagement. Games and play in particular can help with social adoption, as Jane proceeded to deliver a rapid, and yes, engaging look at the science behind that assertion:

  • There are 1 billion people worldwide who spend at least 1 hour a day playing digital games.
  • 71% of workers in the US are NOT engaged at the office, according to Gallup 2012. This costs companies $300 Billion a year in lost productivity.
  • Children who play video games tested up to 30% higher on creativity scales.
  • Gamers spend up to 80% of their time failing, far more than in real life (we tend to learn more from our failures than our successes).
  • Nature Journal found that ADHD symptoms seem to disappear when people play their favorite games.
  • In clinical trials, casual games outperformed pharmaceuticals to reduce anxiety and depression.
  • Interactive game play showed increased use of the hippocampus region of the brain in MRI scans, which is the center for learning new skills.

Gaming creates 10 positive emotions that lead directly to how we improve problem solving:

  1. Creativity
  2. Contentment
  3. Awe and Wonder
  4. Excitement
  5. Curiosity
  6. Pride
  7. Surprise
  8. Love
  9. Relief
  10. Joy

The outcomes of these improved emotional states and their application to social and work can yield dramatic results:

  • Growndcrew: an urban gardening cooperative used game play similar to FarmVille to increase engagement by citizens to participate in local gardens. They saw a 100% increase in volunteer participation.
  • The real TRON: an organization used the Unity game engine to design a game that visually simulates computer network attacks. IT professionals using the game saw in increase of 400% in their ability to manage complex security information.
  • World Without Oil: using ideas from SimCity, participants were invited to create scenarios for a world of “peak oil”, using a dashboard and sharing responses socially (e.g.: “30% of your employees can't get to work because gas price spikes, what do you do?”). The crowdsourced models that arose were MORE accurate than the predictions of typical “experts”, as borne out when gas prices actually hit the price level estimated in the game.

Jane's session wasn't the only highlight of the keynote. Music wunderkind Jonathan Colton performed his hit song “Code Monkey” to wake up the crowd (he also had a session the day before with noted humorist and author John Hodgman). 


There was also a short demo by each of the 5 finalists in the 2012 Application Development Showdown. Now in its second year, the App Dev throwdown experienced significant growth, with 27 submissions and 14 finalists resulted in the following winners.

  • Clint Oram from SugarCRM for integrating social with sales force automation tools
  • Anew Filey from Write for social and mobile integration into task and project management
  • Colin Goldie and David Simpson from Appfusions with solutions for mixed social application integration
  • John Tripp from Trilog with social project management
  • Russ Fradin from Dynamic Signal with social CRM and engagement for marketing professionals.

The contest continues on with the Appathon, and US$ 10,000 in prizes for winning new social applications. Code and other support can also be found on IBM DeveloperWorks.

Editor's note: For those who weren't able to attend, watch video from key sessions right from IBM's homepage.