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July 10, 2018
September 8, 2018

What I Learned About Management from Video Games

Sheila Grosdidier

Maybe you are one of those people who sees video games as huge time wasters, productivity bombs or distractions. I can point to the wall of books read, the articles published, the charities benefitted by my time and energy – these clearly reflect time well spent. And while it may not seem so clear when pointing out gaming achievements, I’ll never be convinced that video games are the bane of our virtual existence.

There are some brilliant lessons that can come from spending some time in a virtual world. Here are a few gems:

  1. You don’t know what you don’t know about your team members – I found my on-line gaming guild quite by accident. Guilds (in this game) are formed by groups of 30 players. Some guilds are a mix of established team players who have a few extra spots and fill in with new players, a few are groups of new players just learning their skills and they will move on to more advanced guilds as they improve their rank. I had no idea what to expect from the other 29 players who suddenly accepted me into their guild. Would they make it possible for me to level up and learn from their acumen or would they make me want to drop out and find another guild. After a bit, I learned the other players by their player names and yet all I knew of them were their skills, their willingness to let me know that “you can’t use that weapon and that character together” and “hang back when we go to kill the guild boss, live longer and you will get the hang of it.” Suddenly, it was a team and I was part of it. And, oh, these players were good, really good, and I was learning from them! Their talents shone because they respected their craft and it was about everyone, not just one person. Respect the talent of your team and find out what you don’t know about them.
  2. You can try to go it alone, but it’s slow and boring – Initially, I tried to play without a guild. I’d heard how crazy it can get with players you don’t know telling you what to do and imposing a myriad of rules and sanctions for not meeting expectations. It was sooooo slow going by myself and I had to figure everything out myself to move forward. Suddenly, some structure, the ability to move a little faster through levels and some help from knowledgeable players looked pretty palatable. You won’t be as successful without your team, don’t forget it.
  3. Reward your guild generously – When you win big, the riches are shared with everyone in the guild. It takes time to build up characters and the only way you survive and level up is because at some point other players carry you and let you hide in the back of the pack (so you don’t end up dying.) Anyone who jumps in front of a fire breathing dragon, an angry obsessed goblin, or a demented bow-wielding demagogue deserves your thanks and some gems. Share the rewards with your teammates.
  4. Good habits make good outcomes – I asked other members of my guild what they did that enabled them to build up their ability and skill. “You’ve got to work at it every day. And don’t do it because you want to get gems, do it because you are enjoying each step to achievement.” Work at it each day and it’s not just about money, it’s about building habits that reap long term results.
  5. Don’t let others down – To be part of the guild, you commit to signing on at certain times for big guild events. If you don’t show up, you let your guild down. If you do that too often, you got kicked out of the guild. If you can’t show up, you message to make your guild aware. Your team members are counting on you. Don’t leave people hanging, let them know what’s going on and live up to your commitments.
  6. It doesn’t matter who you are – As time goes by, I’m learning more about my guild players. One is in the military in Uzbekistan, three are Russian, one is from Italy, four of them work in national parks all over the US. Fathers, mothers, cat lovers, all ages, and all walks of life. Many of them I would never otherwise have met. And I have learned from each one of them. We talk very rarely about ourselves, that doesn’t matter. What we do talk about is what we have in common, the next event, what weapons will work best, how to fine tune our characters and how we will be even more amazing next time. That’s something universal, what we have in common – a love for the game. Let what you have in common become your glue, it will help hold all the different parts of yourselves together.

The Takeaway

The lessons to engage employees, strengthen teams and build effective management structures are all around us, real and virtual. The true skill is to realize that there is a rare gem to be found, a secret tunnel to get to the next plateau and a little magic doesn’t hurt to assure your success. Of course, none of these are achievable without the right team.

Me? I’m Madame Cheetah Ninja, Council member to the Inferno Skulls. I’m on the right team in business and in Korelis.

Learn more creative and unique lessons from Sheila Grosdidier at one of our H.R. Boot Camps.

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