Does Gaming Teach Business Skills?

A few days ago, if someone had asked me whether gaming makes a person more business-savvy, I would have been inclined to laugh and say, “No way.”

However, a study released this week by computer giant IBM and enterprise software company Seriosity, Inc., might prove that the old phrase “life is just a game” is more accurate than previously thought. The study (.pdf file) indicates that the skills learned through playing online games actually could develop strengths used for success in the business world.

Jim Spohrer, Director of Services Research at IBM’s Almaden, California location, had this to stay:

”What we’ve found is that success as a business leader may depend on skills as a gamer. … Smart organizations are recognizing valued employees who play online games and apply their skills and experiences as virtual leaders to their ‘real world’ jobs.”

The study specifically touched on massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMPORG), such as the contagious World of Warcraft or increasingly popular Eve Online games, to name just a few. According to the study, gamers learn team building, leadership skills, organization, and interpersonal skills that could all be applied to a workplace environment.

For instance, Eve Online allows players to learn skills in real time (not an accelerated gaming time). Players can potentially start their own businesses within the game itself, in game-related industries such as pirating, ship building, and mining. At that point, they can hire other players to be their employees and get a cyber-taste of running their own fantasy corporation.

At least one avid World of Warcraft (WoW) player believes he’s learned business sense from online gaming. Kevin Clough of Louisville, KY, says, “WoW can do a good job of teaching you the intricate parts of a working team.” By working together in groups to achieve specific goals, he believes players learn “a sense of teamwork and necessity of playing one’s role correctly.”

Another WoW player who goes by the online name of “KeithK” disagrees. Drawing from his own experiences, he believes the gaming is purely recreational “unless you are purposely using it for a teaching tool where you can manipulate the data.”

As expected, IBM and Seriosity are using their study results to jump at the chance to promote their own products. IBM’s upcoming Innov8 game (press release), due for a September release to both universities and corporations, allows players to tackle various tasks inspired by some of the situations real-life businesses encounter – which, IBM hopes, will “bridge the gap in understanding between IT teams and business leaders in an organization.”

Meanwhile, Seriosity’s Attent, an enterprise game with multiplayer capabilities, teaches its players skills for reducing information overload.

It’s important to keep in mind that the study was done on IBM’s internal community of over 200 gamers, and over half of those gamers did not believe game playing promotes real world leadership skills.

  • http://www.brianchappell.com Brian Chappell

    I have no doubt this is the case. Some guild leaders have exp leading over 400+ people in some cases. It takes load of dedication, patience, and hard work (sad to say that when, hey, its a GAME) to pull it off. Especially when drama, and pre adolescent kids run rampant in most guilds.

  • rick gregory

    Can a game like WoW teach business (and life) skills? Sure. You have to learn to work in teams, you have to deal with delayed gratification (you can’t find a group to do a quest or instance), you need to plan things out sometimes (moving from your current gear to better gear), etc…

    But you can also play in a manner that’s just for immediate fun. It depends on you. But to be good, esp to be very good, you have to learn a lot of skills that are also used in real life.

    Try it Brittany…. but you might get addicted…

  • http://www.seorefugee.com/seoblog SEO Refugee Blog

    Sweet action! I always knew my gaming would be beneficial lol. I wish this study had come out when I was in high school. ;)

  • http://www.mikroproje.com/Blog.aspx proje

    What do you think about board games? I am playing online chess at GC. It helps me about thinking fast.

  • http://horisly.blogspot.com horisly

    i am sure to say that, gaming do good for business skills.
    but you should be in the right channel.

  • http://www.u-g-h.com Owen Cutajar

    I must admit; I’m pretty sure that I have learnt things while gaming that have helped me in my business and adult life. Thing like the ability to multitask effectively, deal with stressful situations and team dynamics spring to mind.

    However, I also think there are negative things that are acquired also. For example, I prefer to send someone an email than pick up a phone and speak to them, as this gives me more time to deliberate and phrase my sentences. I’m sure this is a fundamental personality trait, but online gaming has contributed to make this worse. (On an aside, I’m glad that that I recognise this flaw and can deal with it)

  • http://www.aquire.com Org Charts

    I think that as long as you know how to balance your gaming with your other duties, then this study rings true.

  • http://us.wazap.com JP Sherman

    Nice post. It’s very true that the generation that’s grown up gaming has integrated well in society for the most part. While some of us are still seen as some negative stereotype, most of us are professionals, parents and students. While there are many traits that gamers have, one of the most common ones is our desire to solve problems. And thats essential in business. After every success or failure ingame, we analyze what happened to make it better, or to find the flaws. Hiring a gamer can sometimes be confusing when you dont know the inside references, and they’ll usually be the first to point out something wrong, but in the end, they’re fiercely loyal, creative and intelligent.