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The Matrix For Businesses 88

An anonymous reader writes "The idea of using virtual reality and gaming technologies to create training exercises and business simulations has been around for years. But recent advances in computer graphics, interfaces, and massively multiplayer online (MMO) games have made it commercially viable to pursue simulations in the business world. Novel, a venture-backed startup company, is about to launch a new MMO role-playing game, called Empire & State, with an unusual goal: to use the technology and the lessons it learns from the game to create simulations for big companies that want to improve their human resources and hiring efficiencies. Imagine assessing employees' leadership and teamwork skills by jacking them into a virtual, multiplayer business scenario. That's the goal, but Novel will face challenges of all sorts — business, social, and technical — in its efforts to sell MMO technologies to the corporate world."
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The Matrix For Businesses

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  • Obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @10:51AM (#32535516) Homepage Journal

    Today's Dilbert [], quite on-topic!

    • Why is it that HR departments always want the employees to be doing something HR-ish instead of doing the work that makes the company money? Honest question.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hylandr ( 813770 )
        My Wet dream is to become CEO of a large corporation and immediately give all of HR the pink slip.

        Seriously, I fantasize about this. For most companies this would be an immediate jump to the black.

        My biggest beef with HR? Refusing to consider anyone that doesn't posses a degree that basically proves they acquired a certain level of book knowledge while marinating their brain in the toxic waste of micro-organisms ( yeast ) . They have No real operative knowledge on what the position requires hiring b
        • Re:Obligatory (Score:4, Insightful)

          by gknoy ( 899301 ) <gknoy.anasazisystems@com> on Friday June 11, 2010 @03:17PM (#32540104)

          Who would you then hire to ensure that employees are well-informed about the law and policies that cover them, who ensure that employee grievances are handled properly, and who manage the paperwork and such for benefits and so forth? Who would be responsible for making sure employees were fully informed (in a uniform and consistent way) at interviews about company benefits, and so on?

          HR does a lot more than managing hiring, doesn't it? Sure, we want to think of them as useless twits who either screen out the good applicants we want or screen US out when we want to apply via bogus job requirements, but not all of them are like that. Moreover, there are many important parts of any business/employee relationship which have to be fulfilled by SOMEONE.

          • by Hylandr ( 813770 )
            Then Management can *Gasp* Do it's *JOB*! Can you Imagine that?

            Management actually Managing? Seriously, We had HR here and now it's gone. That chunk of money went to hiring an employee contributing to the bottom line, and we haven't looked back.

            If we have questions about Legality the Lawyers take care of that.

            You saying an HR person is an educated Lawyer? Check again.

            - Dan.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Weezul ( 52464 )

      You know, I don't give a shit about wifi data collected by google. In fact, google one does one evil thing afaik :

      Google sells fucking first place search results!

      I don't even really mind google selling BP the first place search results for oil spill, but I'd wish google would charge say $5 million per day, that's a fair price given the social damage done.

      Google has sold us all out by selling that search result for less than even $1 million per day. fuckers!

  • WHO THE - (Score:2, Interesting)

    THAT'S MINUS 50 DKP!!!!

    Trust me, if Leadership in MMO's is going to translate into management positions, just kill me now.

  • Kobayashi Maru (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @10:57AM (#32535634)

    That sounds great until somebody learns to game the game. Then what practical use is it to the real world?

  • ThirdLife? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by eexaa ( 1252378 )

    see subject. I think this has already been here before, with no real success.

    • “Our innovation is that players have never been given the ability to explore real business practices and politics before,” Olson says. “We’ve never had the ability to do anything but kill stuff before [in MMOs].”

      Really? Because that sounds EXACTLY like every other MMO that tries to revolve around business and practices.

      Empire & State even has a military element!

      *sigh* People who think they are the first ones to do something need to do their research.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Imagine assessing employees' leadership and teamwork skills by jacking them into a virtual, multiplayer business scenario.

    What would this offer above hiring them and seeing how they work out? Seems like a needless layer of rube goldberg complexity that doesn't make sense in the end. I guess this IS a matrix for business.

  • I can see it now....someone says something dumb, Frank from Accounting comes over to their side of the conference table, jumps up on it and proceeds to tea bag them.

    Yeah, MMO-like corporate worlds could be fantastic.

  • I remember hearing about business doing something like this with Second Life. It's an interesting concept, one that makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

    Heh, I can see the job posting now: "Need experienced creator of Second Life content do design our board meeting house. Red Light District experience a plus."

    • Virtual Universities and whatnot.
    • actually as a business you can spin up a SecondLife type Server with a minimum of effort
      you will need

      1 a web server with MYSQL support
      2 a copy of OpenSim
      3 a few graphics types to create content

    • You know, I was just saying yesterday that I'm so glad we don't get inundated anymore with news articles that present Second Life as if it's some great business tool, and that it's somehow "Important". That meme passed, and now it's all about how Twitter is somehow "Important".

      This seems like regression; been there, done that.

      • I can't find the article (believe it was here on slashdot) but the reason for that is simply that Linden Lab stopped paying everyone to say it was important so they stopped saying it.

  • by milonssecretsn ( 1392667 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @11:01AM (#32535706)

    ". . . but you'll need real world skills to be successful."

    But I play video games because I DON'T have real world skills.

  • Not Novell (Score:4, Informative)

    by Improv ( 2467 ) <> on Friday June 11, 2010 @11:06AM (#32535786) Homepage Journal

    It took me awhile of poking around the site to finally notice that this is "Novel", not "Novell". Reading carefully is important :)

  • by ProdigyPuNk ( 614140 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @11:09AM (#32535816) Journal
    FTFA: Players start out as citizens of an empire, and can collaborate and compete with other players to become leaders of young companies or presidents of countries. Depending on their interests, they can also become criminal overlords, military strategists, bounty hunters, or business tycoons. The game itself will be free, but Novel will charge money for transactions within the game, like when players want to purchase clothing, weapons, or housing. “Our innovation is that players have never been given the ability to explore real business practices and politics before,” Olson says. “We’ve never had the ability to do anything but kill stuff before [in MMOs].” ...Doesn't sound like something I would want my employees doing instead of, you know, being productive...
    • they can also become criminal overlords, military strategists, bounty hunters, or business tycoons.

      I fail to see how the last position on that list differs from the first....

      • by Zerth ( 26112 )

        The criminal overlord can execute somebody directly. The business tycoon has a 50 person minimum.

    • Any word on what technology this is built on? IMHO there's no reason not to use a platform like OpenCobalt in favour of reinventing the wheel. Especially in a business environment, where bleeding-edge graphics power isn't the point...

  • I don't think this looks very fun to play, but I think it would be very fun to work on and research with. I've never tried writing games for business.
  • by Wiarumas ( 919682 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @11:13AM (#32535870)
    The summary sucks. You guys have no idea - it doesn't do it justice. I've RTFA. And to be honest, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.
  • ... event though there are a lot of human elements in it I doubt it'll have real-world value. Game != Real-life, in terms of how people interact. Ask people who play FFA in real-time strategy.
  • Any free-to-play game that requires purchasing items to make you better shouldn't exist. Your rank in a game shouldn't depend on how much money you spend. I don't think games like this stand a chance.
    • Mod UP Parent!

    • I don't think games like this stand a chance.

      Maybe it's cultural, but several games in S Korea would beg to differ, that is, if games were people (or dogs) capable of begging.

      Even in the US, micropayment games are having some success... it's only a matter of time before we see more games with a macro number of micropayments being required for competing at the highest level.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )

      All right, but this game should model a real world experience. And in reality, that's pretty much how it is: Your rank in a game depends on how much money you (are able to) spend.

      Games like this not only stand a chance, they're pretty much the model our world works on currently.

    • by Keerok ( 870468 )
      Try armada online then, its free to play*, and you can't buy anything. *well there are opportunity costs to be factored in, and electricity, and you sorta need a pc and an internet connection, and cafeen to fuel the beast and...but other wise totaly free)
  • Do you get rejected for hitting the bosses in this MMO?
  • Imagine assessing employees' leadership and teamwork skills by jacking them into a virtual, multiplayer business scenario.

    I could see this being used for new hires, where the typical interview process doesn't bring out their true capabilities. For already hired employees, I could see it being used as an indicator for future performance. Standard assessment methods could still be used effectively for present performance. So the virtual test might be useful as a way of preparing employees for dealing with future adverse business conditions, hostile work situations, different and/or increased responsibilities, or just normal t

  • Leading virtual world provider Linden Labs just laid off 30% of their employees, all of whom were working on a similar concept. []
  • Become number 1 on ur server! go to EmpireAndStateHax.dum for free hax! Outscore your boss, become the new manager!
  • It's had some serious setbacks so far. Computers - with their inherent tendency to accurate process information - seem to have difficulty processing the normal levels of cronyism, petty gossip, office politics, nepotism. and "yes-man" traits required to to advance within normal corporate power structures. It's also been a major challenge to properly implement the Peter Principle. We're using a sort of inverted genetic algorithm in which the worst possible candidate is chosen to fill a vacant position. It's

  • by clem ( 5683 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @11:34AM (#32536186) Homepage

    Neo: If you're fired in the Matrix, are you unemployed here?
    Morpheus: The body cannot receive a paycheck without the mind. Well, except government jobs, but you get my point.

  • People play MMOs to tackle non-real-world problems where X hours of hard work according to precise set of rules R gives you precisely defined outcome O, with loot from [L1, L2, L3, ...]. They play precisely to escape from the fact the same effort in the real world gets you one from [nada, less than nada, peanuts, laughed at]. There is space for the use of MMOs to train people and it's not new, but most of the time it's set up by people who think that gamers need to be patronised. "Got Game" is an interest
  • FPS (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "... to create simulations for big companies that want to improve their human resources and hiring efficiencies."

    So it's some kind of First Person Shooter?

  • Consciences impede the rate of wealth harvesting in some sectors of the American economy; games requiring cooperation which also reward betrayal could provide quite useful information for, say, someone contemplating the creation of a hedge fund or the next variation of the synthetic mortgage-backed financial instruments scam.

  • "The new game is called Empire & State, and it will be in alpha release by the fourth quarter of this year,"

    I would hardly call this "about to launch".
  • Will I be able to grief my boss?

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @12:53PM (#32537438)

    A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

  • Wonder if they will have Mac/Linux versions?

    I will not be forced to install Windows just to play a game.
  • There are plenty of ways to do this:
    • Use standardized job titles, definitions, and requirements. 8+ years of experience programming in C is a bit much for a junior programmer.
    • Have HR actually understand the job and requirements for which they are advertising and hiring. An help desk analyst does not need all the skills of an experienced WAN engineer and programmer.
    • Stop using buzzword bingo to filter resumes.
    • Actually respond to people who send in their resumes.
    • Don't require ridiculous skill sets or train
  • EVE Online already has an elaborate player-driven economy, corporations, an elected council, and so on. Where's the value added in Empire & State?
    • It doesn't have people like me going around blowing your shit up? :)

      • Then how is it a useful business simulator? I think PvP (and the horrible learning curve of EVE) are helpful in modeling real world business behavior.
  • From Novel (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dyamanoha ( 1831602 )
    Hi everyone, my name is David and I'm the lead engineer at Novel Interactive. I would like to hopefully clear up some of the confusion related to the article posted here, which was recently published in Xconomy. Although technically similar, Empire & State and the business simulations are two entirely different products. While Empire & State is an MMORPG, you can think of our business simulations as being an MMO hr solution. These enterprise hr solutions are rooted in our MMO technology, but are
  • by giblfiz ( 125533 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:51PM (#32539654)

    This seems pretty much exactly like an old parody video that was out a while back... []

  • KHAAAAN! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Triv ( 181010 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:58PM (#32541848) Journal

    Imagine assessing employees' leadership and teamwork skills by jacking them into a virtual, multiplayer business scenario.

    Sounds like the Kobayashi Maru scenario [] to me, just without any of the fun.

  • This seems to be following a trend where people think that adding "a game" to something mundane (usually related to soul-destroying work) can make things better. The recent example was Jesse Schell's talk at the 2010 DICE conference. There's also been a lot of people who have used the appeal of MMOs being able to gather a lot of people into one area to use these worlds as beds for research. There have been a lot of academic papers trying to glean economic insight based on the activity of players in diffe

  • Your courageous and selfless spelling corrections have made me a better person

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.