After Hours

Can online gaming improve your career?


According to a study by IBM and Seriosity, online role-playing games are shaping the next generation of business leaders.Let me just stick a note in here before we get any further: Seriosity's web site states "IBM and Seriosity have done in-depth research to understand how multiplayer online game environments in the virtual world apply to the business world to enhance productivity, innovation and leadership." Seriosity has developed with IBM a flagship product called Attent that "creates a virtual economy for enterprise collaboration and a solution to information overload." In other words, while I do believe that the idea online gaming may enhance some real-life business skills, if Seriosity had partnered with Hormel, this study very well have concluded that meat by-products directly enhance one's ability to balance a budget.

But anyway, the Seriosity claims that their study shows that today's gamers are learning skills that are directly transferable to business success, such as collaboration, self-organization, economy management, influence, and how to earn incentives. I do think there is applicable, real-world value to some gaming. After all, the military has been using virtual environments for educational purposes for a long time. The games may not prepare people for the emotional and physical realities of actual combat, but they do teach strategy and the actual mechanics of the tools at hand.

But, of course, with Seriosity's claims about its new software, you have to consider the tiny little matter of human interaction. Unfortunately, a great deal of business leadership involves common sense. So it may be true that skills learned through online games may be enhance productivity and innovation, I'm not so sure about the leadership part.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

49 comments
genesimages
genesimages

I have bled at least as much as many of these people. I was employed by the Federal GOvernment for 15 years. The FDIC turned into the most miserable place anyone would want be associated with. The stress level was imaginable; in fact, because of the stress, I had a stroke on the way to work one morning. FDIC was known as FACE DOWN IN CHAIR, or FOUND DEAD IN CHAIR, or several other phrases equally as nice. The crowning moment was when several hundred of us were hered into an auditorium and told that many of us NO LONGER HAD JOBS! As a reaction to some of the news, I knew of 4 suicides maybe as a result. If anyone is considering going with the government job, think twice. After leaving that place, I have never looked back and have never been happier......

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

How about the game where the false grocery store manager pulls a gun on you.

medullaoblongata
medullaoblongata

So it may be true that skills learned through online games may be enhance productivity and innovation, I?m not so sure about the leadership part. I do believe online games can help improve leadership skills. In MMORPG games, guild membership is very common, which means there are groups of people who work closely together to achieve a common goal. In order to accomplish these goals, there must be strong organization and leadership involved or you will often times not succeed. The types of skills you use to organize raids in an MMORPG are often the same that you would use in the real world. You must be a good communicator, must be able to delegate tasks, must be able to juggle many items at one time, must be competent in tactics and techniques, and must be confident in yours and your team's abilities. A person might start out leading just a small group to accomplish a simple task, but, as he or she improves and gains confidence, may learn to lead something on a much larger scale where there could be dozens of members. Online gaming is a way for a person to take baby steps into learning how to lead. Someone who is shy in real life may have more confidence in a game and eventually that in-game confidence will translate to more out-of-game confidence. Even if a person never leads a raid, they will have developed good teamwork and listening skills, because many times if a single person fails to follow directions, the entire raid will fail. So, to conclude this, I really do think people that are part of an active guild or community in an online game can learn important skills that are an asset in the business world. Just because it is a game doesn't mean that you're not working with real people on the other side. The skills you have to use in game are just the same as the ones you use on the outside. Edit: Format changes.

apotheon
apotheon

The key to working for the government is to not care at all, and to be ready to walk away at any time, at a moment's notice. If you care about a government job the same way you might care about a private sector job, you're screwed. Of course, that basically means that everyone that handles a government job well contributes to the overall inefficiency of government -- but then, anyone who actually thinks the government can perform private sector functions better than a private company is living in a fantasy world, so that shouldn't be a surprise. The main problem with the "don't care" approach to government employment is that it destroys integrity and any sense of self-worth that might be bound up in what one does for money. It generally involves living as a leach on the vein of the taxpayer. It's ethically bankrupt, counterproductive, and prone to destroying self-respect. At least you wouldn't have a stroke on the way to work, though.

Wally Bahny
Wally Bahny

How many of you play World of Warcraft (other than Mark, who I know does)? Are all of you who play in Technologia?

Stangg
Stangg

To all those who say playing MMORPG's are a waste of time, unless your out ending poverty or curing cancer, chances are your wasting your time just as much as everybody else. And to the argument, I think that leading in MMORPG's requires leadership skills rather than breeding them, someone with poor leadership skills will quickly falter under the pressure put on them by other players in my opinion, I've seen it happen a number of times. I've also seen people with barely any decent communication/leadership skills try and run a guild and have a higher member turnover than I eat meals because people were just unhappy, these people aren't going to change their ways.

pennatomcat
pennatomcat

1. Turn off computer. 2. Go outside. 3. Breathe deeply. 4. Slap self in face very hard. 5. Repeat until brain functions return.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

you wife or girl friend will leave you because your spending all your time online, but you will be able to get that really hot virtual gal. Too bad she actually turns out to be Dogbert, as on the net no one knows your a dog!

genesimages
genesimages

I tried to work for the government for almost 15 years of my life. It was, at the end, the worst hell I had ever imagined. The FDIC, also known as "FOUND DEAD IN CHAIR", or FOUND DEAD IN CAR", or "FACE DOWN IN CHAIR, became one of the deadliest places to work for. At the end of 2004, management decided to cut the body count. They did this by offering a "Buy Out" for anyone who agreed to leave by a certain date. They would be given a severance package, and to agree to not show up on their doorstep for at least 5 years. Once the buy out was announced, somewhere in that time frame, there were 4 suicides (from what we were told). Hence, the acronym. Personally, I had a sroke on the way to work one morning while all of this was going on. I was out of work for 4 weeks because of the aftermath of it. Eventually, I took the Buy Out. When I left the building that last day, I never looked back. I have my life and my health back. I am only making about half of the money as before, but I am alive to be able to do something with it besides leave it to my heirs. Never again....!

christineeve
christineeve

I play RP on Silver Hand with Morgantis. Although I've played on at least 5 other servers I like SH the best.

Wally Bahny
Wally Bahny

What are your character names? I recognize Cervisia. I think it's good to associate the WoW person with the TR person so that you can combine the persons in your head instead of thinking there is one group here and one group there. I'm Inferious (and alts) by the way.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Although I haven't played in ages...Poor Cervisia is stuck in the land of mushrooms and pod people.

pennatomcat
pennatomcat

I guess that I did stir up a hornets nest! ifaubert@..., I concede that I am viewing the subject from an outdated position of ignorance. (that was hard to say) :( The last games that I bought were Lemmings and Railroad Tycoon II. I suppose I should cough up some cash to buy WoW to see what's going on before I say anything else about it. What's the latest version? I was surprised to see so much opposition to my comments!

medullaoblongata
medullaoblongata

[i]"And to the argument, I think that leading in MMORPG's requires leadership skills rather than breeding them, someone with poor leadership skills will quickly falter under the pressure put on them by other players in my opinion, I've seen it happen a number of times."[/i] This is definitely true. On the high end raids and in large guilds in MMORPGs, the person running the guild or the raid already must possess excellent leadership skills, otherwise things will collapse. So because such skills are needed to be successful, it must also mean that people can learn them by starting on a much smaller scale. Someone who has leadership potential can gain such skills by leading smaller groups and can progressively work up to larger, more elaborate ones with more people involved. Not everyone can be a leader and many people just don't have the right mix of things to be successful. In that case, no matter how long they play MMORPGs they will never be a good leader, but in some, gaming could be good practice for what they need to do be successful leaders.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

People build model train sets, that's ok. That's also indoors. People collect stamps, coins, and baseball cards, but that's ok. Why is gaming bad?

medullaoblongata
medullaoblongata

. . . especially if your wife or girlfriend plays with you and is one of those "hot virtual " gals. Then you don't have to worry about the dogs on the other side.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Good advice and I tend to agree that PvP server have the highest amount of jerks on them...

christineeve
christineeve

I'm a girl gamer. I played back when Asheron's Call was competing with Anarchy Online and EverQuest. I've had so much fun gaming. I have always been a casual gammer. I haven't done much high end WoW raiding. I just enjoy going from region to region doing the area quests and looking at the nice graphics and listeing to great soundtrack. For me, it's pretty relaxing to come home, log on, chat with friends, and run around as a cute elf. You can have a great time socializing and you can meet some really nice people. WoW or MMOs don't have to rule your life to have fun. I have several real life friends that I've finally met after playing with them for years and years. Nope, didn't go and meet someone after five minutes of talking with them. Met them after years of gaming together. In fact, I met my husband playing Asheron's Call. We game together and have been married nearly 7 years! It's great because we have something fun to do together that doesn't cost us an arm and a leg. I've played Beta on nearly every game that has come out, worked on creating some games with developers, and by far I really enjoy WoW the most. I also recommend the Role Playing servers. The people seem to play nicer. I wouldn't start right off in a PVP server. Normal servers--never had a great time on those. But, you'll have to find your preferrence. One word of advice if you do start, do all the starter quests, get in groups, be nice, and don't beg, "puuuuleeesssssssssse cn I hav 100 gold my acnocnt got jacked! (misspelling intended)" LOL. I just wanted to share a slightly different perspective on the game/MMOs. Come on over to the dark side and game with us!

Stangg
Stangg

I raid in a successful high end guild, one of the top on my server. I'm also a class leader and we are steadily making our way through the majority of the most recent content. In a game like WoW, raiding is raiding, even the softer end of the spectrum still requires a degree of team work and co ordination from the leader. However by no means would I class myself as a hardcore gamer/raider, but at the same time I would suppose I am not casual. I don't think you can compare leading 5 people through a group or just playing with a few friends in a guild to raiding, and the skills/experience required. Which is why I posted my response, aimed more at pennatomcat's idea of picking up the game to see what "all the fuss" is about. Unless you planning on putting the time sink in to experience the full aspect of the game, your not going to see what this article is pointing at. And yeah I spend too much time playing this game, though on a plus I've met some great people who I have developed good friendships with that I would never have met otherwise, another plus that negates the "lack of life" argument

medullaoblongata
medullaoblongata

This is an extreme example of game play in World of Warcraft or of any other MMORPG. If you want to use the comparing to real life analogy, what Anthony.Fawkes is talking about are the lawyers and doctors of WoW. You don't get to that level overnight, but instead you have to put in a lot of time and effort. To experience the game and to get the benefits of I've been talking about in this whole discussion, you don't have to strive for the very top. The people at the very top have very well developed skills and have a lot of practice, but it is also a lot of work. Just like how not everyone wants to be a lawyer or a doctor in the real world, you don't have to be one in the game to be successful. I haven't been in a top raiding guild during my experiences in MMORPGs but I've been in guilds that are much smaller but have been able to complete higher end encounters. I can say that I have definitely gained valuable skills during my time playing. So keep in mind that a lot of the stuff you hear about MMORPGs is the extreme end of it and that isn't the same world a more casual gamer will experience. As Mark Kaelin said in another part of this discussion, the Technologia guild is a perfect example of a place where you can go that is relaxed but has a group of people who are kind and work well together.

Stangg
Stangg

As an aside though, another way to look at MMO's is comparing it to real life: Lets say you grab yourself a baseball bat and go around beating up chavs for their jewelry, you sell this jewelry and purchase a better baseball bat to beat up more chavs and continue repeating this process, by the end of it you realise all you have to show for you work is a really nice baseball bat. Pretty good use of two years hey? Just picking up the game and playing it isn't going to give you a glimpse of high end raiding. The current expansion has a level cap of 70, for a new player this could take 20 days played time to reach, thats sitting at your computer for 20 days solid. Then you have to actually get into a raiding guild, which means farming gear etc so your of a high enough quality. Then you can glimpse 10 man raiding. Once you have farmed this for a few months, you might move on to 25 man raiding and progress from their. Its a huge time sink and raiding does take up a large part of your life, its a second job by all accounts.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

You are putting words in my mouth. Not only is that disingenuous, but also further proof you are wrong. It doesn't help that you are a pompous ass. You not only look down at those that don't share your views, but you also force your narrow world view on others. I don't like you because you are a jerk who thinks his tiny world is far more important than anyone else's. Oh and fortune had nothing to do with striking a cord with the interviewer. I'm always the rock star no matter where I work. Do you know why? Not only because I'm good at what I do, but also because I can actually relate to people and admit when I wrong or was being an ass. Just because you aren't a leader doesn't mean other people aren't.

apotheon
apotheon

I wonder if distile_sprain is also the sort of person who wouldn't admit to the possibility that open source development would be a good thing to have on the resume, either, because it doesn't involve a Fortune 500 corporation.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]I'm irritating because I disagree with the premise that gaming improves leadership? If your responses to dissenting opinions are to resort to ad hominem offensives, then trust me, you won't have to worry about working for me, or most others, for that matter.[/i]" Actually, I suspect he finds you irritating because your attitude is condescending and mildly offensive, you express very narrow-minded views via hyperbole, and you seem inclined to engage in [i]reductio ad absurdum[/i] fallacies at the drop of a hat. The fact you disagree with him is just a bonus -- as is the fact that you seem inclined to put words in his mouth and make unnecessary assumptions about what he's saying.

hawaiifive-oh
hawaiifive-oh

I'm irritating because I disagree with the premise that gaming improves leadership? If your responses to dissenting opinions are to resort to ad hominem offensives, then trust me, you won't have to worry about working for me, or most others, for that matter. You were fortunate that you struck a chord with your interviewer in much the same way that two people from the same college fraternity can relate, but I'm pretty sure your outcome is the exception to the rule. I happen to own an Xbox 360 and enjoy playing it. But my expertise leading a squad of soldiers in Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter doesn't make me any better a leader than playing with Lego's makes me an architectural engineer. I acknowledge that rationalization is an extremely powerful human drive; just don't be surprised if non-gamers don't share your view that a level-36 paladin equates to upward mobility.

Stangg
Stangg

I don't think that the kind of leadership your talking about is what this implies. I think its more motivational and people management, getting those 25-40 people to want to log on each night and spend hours trying to progress whether successful or not takes some good leadership skills. Keeping morale high enough and generating an atmosphere were people can and will work together to achieve a common goal.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

During the interview I was asked my hobbies and I explained that I liked to play computer games. The very next questions were: Do you play WoW and what server are you on? So, yes, people understand that it takes organization and the ability to associate with people from all walks to be successful in a given task in an online game. Oh and on that note, if you are as irritating in person as you are online, I'd sooner sell pencils on a street corner than work for someone like you.

medullaoblongata
medullaoblongata

It is too bad that you were unable to learn anything useful or gain anything substantial and lasting from your gaming experience. Even though you were not capable of doing so, many other more receptive people can and do aquire valuable skills.

apotheon
apotheon

"I used to be an idiot too, but I got over it." Thanks. Enjoy your life as an ex-gamer. If you have that kind of low opinion of gamers based on the fact they're gamers, I wouldn't want to work for you anyway.

hawaiifive-oh
hawaiifive-oh

I'm sorry, but as a former online gamer, the notion that gaming either requires or will hone leadership qualities is a farce. Organizing a band of wizards and barbarians to kill an Orc Lord does not exactly summon the same moxie and leadership acumen that is needed to lead a team of lawyers in a patent infringement lawsuit or leading a construction team to build a new suspension bridge. It's fine to enjoy online gaming for the entertainment and escapism -- you don't need to justify your time spent doing it by trying to convince someone that you're becoming a better leader because of it. If you disagree, just cite your online gaming leadership experience on your resume and see how many calls you get for an interview.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I am the guild leader for Technologia, but I have not really pushed our guild toward the 40-man raid. Those events take some serious leadership skills and some serious time commitment. We purposely stayed away from that high-level raiding because we wanted Technologia to be inclusive to all levels of players. I believe with all my heart that my long time gaming has made me a better employee. Games have taught me there is no such thing as the impossible. There is always a solution, you just have to find it. MMORPGs have taught me that, working together, a well-schooled team of players who know their roles can overcome just about any obstacle put before them. No one should discount the social interaction necessary in a MMORPG. You have to practice diplomacy and economic wherewithall; you have to know the mechanics of the game, the mechanics of your character, the mechanics of your teammates' characters, and the mechanics of your opponent. You have to be aware at all times of your environment. You have to juggle chat communication with several people at once. You have to formulate and agree on strategies for success. This is not Pong. Playing a MMORPG requires skills that translate well into working life. It is one way to hone those skills. Historically, that is what gaming has always been about - honing your mind.

locke103
locke103

For someone of retirement age, you certainly are lacking in wisdom and openmindedness. While I personally don't play MMO's myself, the premise is simple and I feel the need to reiterate it again. Like in a real career, you meet people. Communicate. Function as a collective group fulfilling what objectives are being dealt with. First Person Shooters intensify on these aspects and more, considering how fast the action is. Personally, I find myself having to raise morale and issue commands during a round of Team Fortress 2. The slackers wise up and contribute to the best of their ability and the already adept players are planning a few moves ahead. I suppose this makes me a pastey-faced nerd that cannot get laid? With delusions of being equal to some great military leader? A rather insulting stereotype there.

Richard.Bjorklund
Richard.Bjorklund

Coordinating and managing remote workers to accomplish specific goals and tasks is one of the more difficult skills needed in today's business environment. The whole issue with telework and remote offices comes down to the ability to manage people without face-to-face time. These are the skills which are really learned in MMORPGs. Even if the settings are virtual, the people involved are real, so the people management skills learned are real.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

My resume has included a reference to my game playing since the early 1990s. I consider it a plus to be a gamer and want any perspective employer to know about it. I'm not sure it got me this current Senior Editor position, but the division lead did encourage my participation in Technologia.

InfoSecAuditor
InfoSecAuditor

Pennatomcat, I think you're opinion comes from a position of ignorance. If you've never played an MMORPG, or other types of online co-operative games (FPS, RTS, etc), then you really have no idea whether the activity requires leadership skills or not. Also, your opinion of online gaming (and online gamers) is decidedly outdated. Gamers are not all pasty skinned techno-geek teenagers. Gamers come from all walks of life. Getting back to the point, from my experience online gaming does help to hone leadership skills. I've played MMORPGs (EQ2, Guild Wars, etc.) as well as been a clan member/leader for a popular squad based HL2 mod (Day of Defeat: Source). Both genres require a degree of skill in situational awareness, leadership, resource management and communication. While these games don't replace real-world experience by any means, they do augment skills that you use in real life (IRL). You may not know this, but the military has been using computer gaming as a training tool for over a decade. Also, it may be interesting to note that gaming has been shown to have physical benefits such as improved eye-hand coordination and improved eyesight (do a Google search on "gaming improves eyesight" for corroborative articles). Have a nice day.

medullaoblongata
medullaoblongata

There's a misconception about online gaming and how it can be beneficial, I think. It isn't about the game itself, such as how you play your character, what buttons you push to make things happen, or what monsters you kill that helps you out in the real world. The social interaction between different players is the important aspect. If you just play the game by yourself or play games only against a computer, you won't be gaining the teamwork and leadership skills I've been talking about. When the word "game" comes up, people seem to automatically assume that it is something that people do to waste time when they could be doing something useful and productive. It very well could be that to some people, but it isn't always that way. So, if you can take a step back and forget the idea that in an MMORPG you're running around in a fake world, killing fake monsters, and just look at it from a higher level, you'll find that there are vast social interactions going on. These social interactions are the same no matter what situation you put around it. At school, you're given a group assignment to help you build the exact same kind of skills you're building when you group in an MMORGP. In school, you just happen to be working on a presentation on a Greek mythology and in the game, you're doing a quest to recover piece of treasure. In both situations, you have the exact same end result, you complete the task by working together as a team. In all of this, I'm not saying that someone will come out and become the next great leader like Martin Luther King, Jr. just because they spent all of their time playing online games. I'm just saying that it is possible to learn such skills through gaming and that such an idea should not be dismissed outright just because it doesn't fall into the standard norms of society.

medullaoblongata
medullaoblongata

[i]"the one where you think everyone that plays MMORPGs is a socially retarded nerd and nobody gets any practical value, or learns anything, from them."[/i] Yes, that was part of the point of my comment. The other part is that people somehow think other hobbies are noble and grand and that they are somehow superior with never-ending social value.

apotheon
apotheon

If nothing else, it should give a taste of the "herding cats" circumstances of software project management.

apotheon
apotheon

It's not about learning to use a sword in a real-world fight, or learning to mine and smelt ore from a computer game. It's about learning something about principles of strategy and leadership from the social aspects of a game that requires a certain amount of teamwork and planning to succeed at specific tasks. Just as learning to play a musical instrument and sight-read sheet music can contribute to one's skills as a programmer, so too can World of Warcraft contribute to one's skills as a team leader or member. Nothing in my Army experience involved managing software development projects directly, but a lot of the principles of leadership and teamwork that I learned in the Army can similarly apply to project management.

apotheon
apotheon

I'm pretty sure the fantasy world to which medullaoblongata referred was the one where you think everyone that plays MMORPGs is a socially retarded nerd and nobody gets any practical value, or learns anything, from them.

ozren
ozren

A raid often consists of 40 people and lasts 6 hours. If 3 people out of 40 don't do their job (either they don't understand what to do or they think they know better or they simply don't care) the effort will be wasted. Let's not forget that those 40 come from all parts of the world and all ages. Imagine the determination, patience, and the communication and organization skills the raid leader has to have. If someone put on his CV that he was the raid leader for a top WoW guild, yes, it should count.

pennatomcat
pennatomcat

to step on your toes, but I still fail to see your point. Sure, WoW could help you with your email communication skills, but it certainly doesn't have the same level of interpersonal communication and consequences as real life. Sorry, I'm not interested in things like "playing with your stamps or doing your birdwatching outside and continue living in your own fantasy world." No, I'm not very familiar with how MMORPGs work, but doesn't WoW somewhat involve YOU in "living in your own fantasy world?" I really fail to see your point on that comment.

pennatomcat
pennatomcat

While a game may give you a small taste of skills and experience, it can't possibly come close to the real deal. Didn't you serve as an Army Ranger? Would a thousand virtual parachute jumps come close to giving the same experience and skills of just one real jump? Would your WoW experience come close to what you've learned from military and on-the-job interactions? I'll bet that you'll never put it on your resume'. Am I missing the point? Is the game really that good? Maybe I'll check it out.

medullaoblongata
medullaoblongata

You obviously have no idea how MMORPGs work. You are playing with real people, not just against a computer. Difficult encounters in those games require people playing to have excellent leadership and teamwork skills because otherwise you will not be successful. Because of this, people who play these games learn how to be successful leaders. The skills learned in the game can tranlate directly outside of it. Just because it is called a game doesn't mean it has no value. I'm sure you'd say that someone could get leadership skills by coaching a little league baseball team. The skills used in both are pretty much the same. You need to understand the mechanics of the game, have good communication skills, have the ability to inspire people and give encouragement, etc. Those all apply equally as well to people leading raids in online gaming as it does to someone leading a baseball team. In the business world now, you are doing a lot more "virtual" interaction which is not unlike what happens in MMORPGs, such as in telecommuting and email correspondence. There are many companies where you never see all of your co-workers face-to-face because you do all of your interactions over the computer. So it would seem to me that being able to coordinate things and interact with others in a game would be good practice in how to do it in the workplace. I guess if you don't agree, you can just go on playing with your stamps or doing your birdwatching outside and continue living in your own fantasy world.

apotheon
apotheon

Have you ever participated in a raid? Are you at all familiar with how coordinating an assault well can contribute to the success of it, and poorly can contribute to everyone getting pissed off and refusing to let you lead anything in WoW any longer? Perhaps you should spend a little more time learning about how these things work before you assume there aren't any leadership or organizational skills involved. . . . and I learned some of my own leadership and teamwork skills in the Army, so it's not like I don't have any leadership experience outside of World of Warcraft.

pennatomcat
pennatomcat

something is amiss if you believe that gaming builds leadership skills!

apotheon
apotheon

That's how I handle it. In fact, it was one of those non-virtual girls that got me into World of Warcraft in the first place. Kinda backwards, I know.