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Future business leaders and the MMO

Amanda Rivera
07.10.07
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I have heard tell of people putting Guild leadership on their resumes, and so I was intrigued when Elizabeth wrote about the Seriosity study applying skills learned in MMOs to leadership in the business world. The study, done by IBM in partnership with Seriosity, explains that the environments that players inhabit within MMOs expose them to a variety of elements that can translate well to business. "If you want to see what the business leadership will look like in three to five years," says Dr. Byron Reeves, "look at what's happening in online games."

First they list incentive structures, the concept that if I get a reward at the end of a task I will be more motivated to complete it. This is definitely something we see in the MMO, largely with the quest rewards we are given, but also with the idea that we are pretty much rewarded with some sort of tangible item (or gold) for every accomplishment made in the game. This holds true in the real world as well. I know from personal experience that if workers are offered a bonus at the end of a project they are more likely to do better work, with greater speed and accuracy, regardless of if they receive the reward at the end or not.

Another quality of MMO environments they point to is that of transparency, specifically in connection to performance and capabilities. Here is where the concept of levels and dungeons comes in. I know when I enter the Deadmines that I will have to be level 14 or I will not be able to survive, and through experience I have learned it is more reasonable to expect to do well around level 18 or so. Business leadership requires an understanding of those on your team, of their capabilities and the levels at which they are able to perform, so we could say that the transparency of level requirements in MMOs may very well begin a savvy businessman along the road to insightful leadership.

Not mentioned in the study but worth noting is the global nature of an MMO, and how that can breed an understanding of the importance of respecting cultures in a business leader. In the case of World of Warcraft the Horde is an amalgamation of various races, each with their own rich culture and language, and yet they have come together for a common purpose. To exclude party members based on their race would greatly limit the success of your runs. What if you had a bias against Taurens? There goes your chance for an Innervate. The international cooperation evident in WoW can be applied to the global marketplace, where denying yourself a business venture with another company simply because of their national background only ends up limiting your own success and that of your company.

I realize that this is theoretical. There is no time machine for me to step into the future and test out these theories, and by the same token there are plenty of examples of how playing an MMO does nothing for your success in business, particularly if you call in sick regularly to play instead of going to work. Instead I have been focusing on how the MMO environment may have influence on those that have the tendency toward leadership, and who are open-minded enough to absorb the positive lessons available within the game. The lessons are out there; how they are used is up to us.

[via Blizzplanet]

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