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.
Toni Bowers is the former 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.