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Should Gaming Worlds Join the Workplace? 68

destinyland writes "A Stanford professor argues that gaming worlds can keep workers engaged, and advocates elements of World of Warcraft or Second Life to hone workplace skills like teamwork, leadership, and data analysis. An IBM report also argues games like World of Warcraft teach leadership and that 'there is no reason to think the same cannot be done in corporate settings of various sizes.' The professor even suggests putting online gaming experiences into your resume. ('There's just so much that gets done [in a virtual world] that's just right on target with what happens in real business.') And Google's CEO also claims that multiplayer gaming also provides good career training, especially for technology careers. 'Everything in the future online is going to look like a multiplayer game. If I were 15 years old, that's what I would be doing right now... It teaches players to build a network, to use interactive skills and thinking.'"
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Should Gaming Worlds Join the Workplace?

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  • by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @07:39AM (#30789350)
    Leadership skills? Planning? Cooperation? Have them play D&D. (That's partly a serious comment, actually.)
  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @08:02AM (#30789434) Journal
    A year or so ago, I helped my client (a large corporation) look into using virtual worlds and MMOs as platforms for learning and collaboration. I also play MMOs, which helped. And I am familiar with the notion put forth by this professor; companies like IBM have already done some research into the subject. Anyway...

    WoW and similar games can indeed hone or help assess leadership skills.... but only with people who already play Wow. For newbies, the time to learn play the game and train up to a level where there are meaningful leadership and teaming aspects (raids) is largely wasted. There are already better business simulations out there that are tailored to business situations. For instance: running a raid organisation is closer to leading a group of volunteers than to managing a corporate team. Different objectives, different leadership style. If you are looking for leadership and team working simulations that can be done virtually, I'd look for existing p&p business simulation games and port them to a platform like Second Life. The big advantage being that such a simulation hardly requires any training to work the simulation itself; after a short newbie obstacle course you can jump straight into the game itself.

    Virtual platforms offer a range of possibilities for new ways of learning, especially experiential learning in areas like HSE, leadership, self assessment and team working, but sadly there still is very little training material in virtual environments out there. We're proceeding to roll our own. WoW is far too complex a game and far too removed from business relevant objectives to serve as an effective learning platform.

    Putting WoW skillz on your resume? Too early, perhaps. But... if someone is leading a consistently successful raid team, I would readily assume that they have leadership skills worth looking into.
  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @08:59AM (#30789730) Journal
    True, but you touch on an important practical point: you have to go in and check. I can't judge the quality of a raid leader from the fact that they have downed Mork the Farty 20 times in a row with no wipes; I'd have to hop on his raid and see how they actually perform. Perhaps the raid leader is rather poor in reality, and it's a group leader giving the orders, and a team member who cools off budding conflicts, with the raid leader being little more than responsible for the loots and invites (come to think of it, I know a few managers who manage little more than "loots and invites").

    So, to qualify my earlier statement a little: I know from experience that the good raid leaders I have raided with posess strong leadership qualities. Even so, that might not necessarily translate to being good business leaders, but at least you know the potential is there in their personalities.
  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @09:11AM (#30789778)

    The same was said about sports. "Leadership... teamwork... initiative... coordination... motivation... blah... blah... etc." And they were right. Up to a point. What I'd like to see commissioned is a study comparing the two: who makes for a better Future Corporate Asshole, the quarterback of the high school football team, or the high school WoW guild leader?

    The element of a virtual world that I'd like to see in my RL workspace is a large rail gun out of Eve Online that I could use to convince clients to pay on time...

  • by darkwing_bmf ( 178021 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @10:11AM (#30790054)

    In the real world, that is not the case, you might have followed the right guide to grind your career to the next level and still never ping because the AI has decided that they shall promote the girl because she is prettier or the guy because he is not a girl. Or the minority because there ain't enough of them or the majority because everyone knows minorities can't cut it.

    Are you kidding? All kinds of guilds "promote" players based on the things you describe. "Suzie's not as good as Bob." "Yeah, but she's the only girl we've got. We have to keep her." I don't think you realize how hard it is to get random people to work together to achieve a common goal. Your company may not need more leaders but the world certainly does. Imagine all the new jobs we would have if there were more people willing and able to create successful businesses. Imagine how much better our government would be if the heads of our political parties were focused on governing (leading) rather than on gaining 50% + 1 vote over the other party at the next election. Yes the world needs more (and higher quality) leaders.

  • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @11:12AM (#30790380)

    Perhaps the raid leader is rather poor in reality, and it's a group leader giving the orders, and a team member who cools off budding conflicts, with the raid leader being little more than responsible for the loots and invites

    So basically you have the same possibilities with in-game leaders as you have with business ones.

  • by Gavin Scott ( 15916 ) on Saturday January 16, 2010 @02:29PM (#30791964)

    Well, I disagree that success in leading a guild/raid is only about the game.

    I learned more about managing people and group dynamics in a couple years of raiding than in 20 years of working (mostly as a non-leader) and watching the process.

    The learning happens when you take responsibility for leading a group, which means figuring out how to keep everyone happy and moving in the same direction.

    This generally NOT a process that primarily plays out in a particular in-game event like a raid, though you do have to have the patience and situational awareness to keep everything going smoothly. Raid leader IS just a game skill really, along with some basic communication and coordination skills (being willing to know how to do everyone's job and teach it to them). Your forums can be a flaming wreckage of hate and recrimination, but once people show up in-game for an event, things always go amazingly smoothly.

    Guild leadership on the other hand is all about managing the drama that comes between in-game events, as everyone has their own preferences in terms of how serious vs. casual the group should be, how loot should be handled, whether attendance should be required, how people should be recruited, how it's decided who gets to go to each raid, etc.

    Again, from my experience almost no management is required in-game where you might expect. All of the hard problems show up as conflicts between different peoples desires, personalities, psychological issues, etc., and they play out on the guild's forums, email, in-game chat, etc., outside of actual raid events.

    So what game it is, what the game rules are, etc. really has very little impact on things!

    There are SO many opportunities for conflict and disagreement that a gaming guild produces a super-concentrated laboratory for the study of human behavior and interactions. If you study guild management strategies, you'll find miniature versions of every political structure invented by man, and you'll very quickly see all of their good and bad points displayed in a sort of Loony Tunes exaggerated cartoon version of political science.

    As a leader you learn pretty quickly that while you might have signed up for the job with the idea that you'll like being in charge, you actually are the one whose opinion matters the least when it comes to keeping things working smoothly. If you had any illusion that other people think the way you do, or that things you think are completely obvious and straightforward decisions will be agreed to by everyone, those illusions will quickly be shattered.

    I think the vast majority of serious raiding guilds (really any guild that requires the cooperation of a non-trivial group of people towards a common goal) eventually self-destruct as a result of all the internal pressures and related drama. Watching this process, and trying to prevent it, will teach you an incredible amount about how people and groups work.

    For me, these experiences absolutely justified the time I spent playing WoW because of how much I learned about people (and myself).


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