By YASIR OSMAN
If the words “GG”, “delicious”, “nuclear launch detected”, “Get over here” or “hadouken” mean anything at all to you, then you are most likely a gamer. Believe it or not, research has shown that the average age of gamers is 30 years old. That means that a whole generation of undergraduates, fresh graduates and new employees are mostly gamers.
These people are the human capital that will take this world into the next era. They are our next generation leaders. So how do video games benefit the leadership development of this group? Let press the start button to find out.
There have been several scientific research studies that prove that being a gamer makes you a better leader. Leadership in Games and at Work: Implications for the Massively Multiplayer Online Role – Playing Games by Byron Reeves of Standford University is one of them. The research claims that games like World of Warcraft showcase leadership characteristics in the players that play the game.
Here is a little backstory. The game World of Warcraft is an online role playing game where the player can choose different classes of racers like warrior, paladin, hunter and many others, all possessing different strengths and weaknesses.
The most interesting part of the game, and relevant to the topic, is that the players from all over the world can gather together online, and go on raids.
This means participating on the same quest to either pillage a very difficult level, or fight a big boss like a massive dragon. Raids can only be done through being part of a guild that has five to 40 players.
Here we can see that organising a large group of people requires certain skills and is an administrative understanding. The leader needs to divide the group into multiple teams and give specific instructions to these teams to make the raid successful.
Over many raids and failures, the leader and the members of the guild learn more about each other and also how to better organise the group. They learn to be more effective in using their strengths and overcoming each other’s weaknesses.
This is what leaders of most organisations do: divide their employees into teams, give them instructions and make sure the team executes the instructions to reach a goal. An important aspect of good leaders is to be able to get the best out of their people and to make sure they reach their maximum potential.
Another game that involves teamwork is DotA. Here, working together as a unit is essential to win a match. DotA, which is short for Defence of the Ancients, is part of the expansion to Warcraft 3.
The game is about a player controlling a certain character, with the help of four other players, to take down towers and waves of underlings to reach the opponent team’s base and take down their Ancient building. Whichever team takes down the Ancient building first, wins.
The game requires the players to work together in helping each other level up, gain enough resources, equip each other with weapons and fight the other team. Precision in executing different moves is crucial in winning this game.
The game enables players to take up leadership roles interchangeably depending on the different situations. For example, when there is an advantage for one player to take charge and attack, the player will take charge, followed by the teammates joining in the fight.
Another example is deciding whether attacking the tower is a better tactical move than attacking the opponent.
Quick decisions are made based on the situations. The ability to make quick decisive decisions are indispensable in any leader. The fact that all the players in DotA develop this ability is evidence that games help develop leadership traits.
Jane Mcgonigal in her speech on TED Talk, Gaming can make a better world, spoke about the power of social fabric in gamers. There is a level of trust that is forged when people play a game together. The ability to relate with one another helps them connect and be involved with one another on a social level.
A game that involves real people in the real world is a game called Ingress. It is an augmented reality game played on your smart phone. It takes real structures like museums, street art or even an interesting looking lamp post and makes them into portals where the player can hack, take down, and deploy “resonators”, shield, or even link three of them together.
As of May 2013, there are about 500,000 people that play the game on their smartphones. The story is that there are two different factions called the “enlightened” and the “resistance” who fight one another over the control of these portals.
The amazing things is that the game enables random people working together to protect their faction’s portal or attack an enemy’s portal. Strangers can meet and exchange weapons, keys, turrets and shield in order to help one another.
There have been numerous conventions, or LAN parties of people from different places and backgrounds coming together to play games. These are the types of leaders we need in the world. People who are willing to go the distance to collaborate on projects, share knowledge and build things.
Speaking of building things, one value that leaders and gamers share is creativity. It is the essential ingredient for the leaders of tomorrow.
Problem solving needs people to think out of the box. This is what the game Minecraft is all about. Breaking boxes and building them into humongous structures.
It is a game that allows players to build amazing constructions like the KLCC Tower, Taj Mahal, Empire State Building, The USS Enterprise, Orthanc of Isengard, and even Gotham City. It is a limitless arena where players can build just about anything they can imagine.
If you think this takes a long time, then you are right. The perseverance in being creative is a key trait that Minecraft develops in their players. Companies are now using games as motivational tools. Projects are seen as quests they need to accomplish, missions are given to people instead of job scopes. Games are even used as learning tools for students.
All it takes is a little mindset change. Treat the world as a video game, perceive the big test as a big battle, gain experience points by hitting the books and gain a level up when you hit that A+ mark. Collaborate with other people when you start raiding that tough project assignment.
Leadership skills like organisation of big groups, trusting other people, thinking creatively and persevering through the hardships are what can make gamers the future movers and shakers.
In a world where technology is evolving, we need leaders who can make sense of it all, collaborate on a global level, and think creatively to tackle problems.
Treat the real world as a game and achieve that epic GG.
PS: GG means good game as a sign of the utmost respect to a player that played the game well.