Amazon is using virtual pets to entice warehouse workers

Amazon wants to make its workers more efficient… by gamifying things.

March 22, 2021

Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

File this under, “I don’t want to live in this future.”

According to a recent report from The Information, Amazon is expanding a program called FC Games to fulfillment centers in 20 states.

The program gamifies the often monotonous work at Amazon fulfillment centers by turning packing boxes into something akin to an arcade game.

Amazon first tested the program in 2017 at a single facility. Since then, the company has expanded the use of gamification to increase worker productivity.

The games are mostly competitive… 

… and they pit co-workers against each other.

Warehouse workers can play up to 6 minigames with names like Tamazilla, CastleCrafter, PicksInSpace, and Dragon Duel.

In-game rewards can be used to purchase virtual pets like penguins, narwhals, and dinosaurs. Amazon notes the rewards do not have any monetary value and have no bearing on a worker’s performance.

Productivity at all costs

Amazon is publicly barreling ahead with its plans to automate most warehouse tasks — but that reality is still years away.

In the meantime, the company is using experiments like FC Games to hold its (still very much human) workers to robot-like productivity standards.

Experts argue that this focus on metrics is pushing employees to the brink: Injuries at Amazon warehouses trend above the industry average.

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