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When I Retire - The End of Retirement

Work and play will become one by the time Wharton MBA Steve Johnston retires - so why would he want to retire?


Wed Apr 10 2013

Photo credit rocketvox

When I Retire Competition Finalist Steve Johnston is an American national and an MBA at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


It's time we retire the concept “retirement.” Retirement is a thing of the past. It's built upon a false foundation: the lie that there is a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of labor. There is no tunnel. We should not work just to live anymore than we should live just to work.

The force that could bring about the end of retirement? Gamification. Gamification is the utilization of game mentalities and mechanisms to foster greater engagement within our daily lives. The foundation for gamification lies in data and software: data that illustrates processes and outcomes and software that recognizes patterns and efficiencies. Together, these tools provide the basis for a new paradigm that blurs the lines between work and play. 

We're already seeing the early signs of this convergence of professional and personal lives: individuals increasingly telecommute or freelance. Young people flock to startups, seeking jobs that imbue their lives with both pay and play. Perhaps we’ve always wanted to work this way, and today, we finally hold the power to redefine “work.”  Imagine a world where my effectiveness in my job can be monitored in real-time and rewarded more accurately. This may sound utopian or scary to some, for that which can be rewarded can also be punished. Such a zero-sum mentality ignores the potential for gamification to foster collaboration among teams, firms, even whole industries, paving the path to unimagined progress.

The gamification transformation will not immediately alleviate problems of energy scarcity or social inequity or the looming threats of skyrocketing pension and healthcare costs. However, the sooner we embrace gamification as a way of working and living, the sooner we will know a more hopeful and more prosperous society with greater opportunity for all.  In such a future, I cannot imagine “retiring.”