Amazon Is Turning Warehouse Jobs Into Competitive Video Games
For big businesses, increasing productivity is a tightrope act. The trick is to keep productivity as high as possible while keeping your suicide net budget as low as possible. Which is why places like Amazon love the idea of gamification, whereby they turn menial jobs into games. Unfortunately, they mean The Hunger Games.
Gamification is used in everything from education to marketing to trick people into doing what they hate with the promise of a gold star, a victorious "ding," and a position on the leaderboard. Inside businesses, gamification has only one purpose: maximizing productivity. And Amazon, not content with forcing their shelf-stackers to merely pretend they're playing the suckiest game of Tetris, has now started making actual video games to help their warehouse workers stomp on the shells of tedium.
Scott Lewis/Flickr"Only 500 more boxes until I get to power up -- that is, go home and drink myself to sleep."
In five of the company's experimental warehouses (think Fallout Vaults, but with more dystopian gloom), the work panels now show colorful games complementing various tasks, each with names pulled straight out of the hokiest freemium apps. So in "MissionRacer," every box an employee grabs with the robo-arm speeds along a race car, while "CastleCrafter" lets the ones putting away said boxes build a digital fortress for their glorious god-king Jeff Bezos. They're like medieval serfs, except serfs were allowed pee breaks.
According to the Bezos-owned The Washington Post, "The games simultaneously register the completion of the task, which is tracked by scanning devices, and can pit individuals, teams or entire floors against one another." So not only are you competing against your co-workers all of a sudden, but like an impatient older brother, Amazon is always ready to yank the controller out your hands if you don't git gud (at late capitalism).
HubSpot Didn't Fire People; It "Graduated" Them
HubSpot, a marketing/spam tech startup (the worst combination of words that doesn't include "anal" or "leakage") had the most interesting euphemism for being shitcanned. Instead of getting fired, laid off, or terminated, employees were "graduated." Management would send out a cheery email letting everybody know that someone was going to be using "his superpowers in his next big adventure!" Which is about the time people started noticing he was gone, his desk was cleaned out, and there was an acrid smell wafting from the company incinerator.