Inside several of Amazon’s cavernous warehouses, hundreds of employees spend hours a day playing video games. Some compete by racing virtual dragons or sports cars around a track, while others collaborate to build castles piece by piece.
But they aren’t whiling the time away playing Fortnite and Minecraft. Rather, they’re racing to fill customer orders, their progress reflected in a video game format that is part of an experiment by the e-commerce giant to help reduce the tedium of its physically demanding jobs. And if it helps improve the efficiency of work like plucking items from or stowing products on shelves for 10 hours a day or more, all the better.
The video games are optional for the thousands of “pickers” and “stowers” across a handful of the company’s warehouses. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Developed by Amazon, the games are displayed on small screens at employees’ workstations. As robots wheel giant shelves up to each workstation, lights or screens indicate which item the worker needs to pluck to put into a bin. 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 to be fastest, simply by picking or stowing real Lego sets, cellphone cases or dish soap. Game-playing employees are rewarded with points, virtual badges and other goodies throughout a shift.
Think Tetris, but with real boxes.
Of all the responses to this story, this tweet is my favorite:
Black Mirror Season 5 is lit https://t.co/SgPcqrtbl9
— Blake News (@blakehounshell) May 21, 2019