When people think of “games” and “learning” they often think of typing games, or math games that teach children basic skills. While I fondly remember many hours playing those games as a child, the obvious skills are just the beginning. Gaming can teach us to add and subtract, but it can also teach us ‘soft’ skills that are invaluable to a modern professional.
I found this video a few months ago and have watched it a dozen times. I have also read through several of the articles written about it. To summarize the point of the video, John Seely Brown said that he would rather hire a high level World of Warcraft player over a Harvard MBA. He talks a lot about self-organizing groups coming up with huge numbers of ideas. And the ongoing measurement that takes place by guilds and groups.
This point resonated with me. I have led many, many, many raids in World of Warcraft (WoW), Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guild Wars 2, Mechwarrior Online, and others. The largest and most complex of the raids that I organized and ran involved 40 individuals from across 5 time zones. There is a tremendous amount of complexity that needs to be addressed in getting 40 people to get online and get moving towards a common goal that could take several hours, and several failure to reach. We had to take into account: balancing appropriate roles, skill, gear, dedication, dependability, special requests, personalities, etc.
During my time organizing and running large scale dungeon raids I had to deal with time management, adjudicating disputes, and constant feedback from those around me. I had to measure the individuals on my team and make decisions about keeping or replacing them. I needed to decide for myself and my team if we were making appropriate progress toward our overall objectives, and make changes if we were not. These experiences helped make me a better manager. They helped my mature as a gamer, but also helped me develop skills I use in my professional career every day.
Leading a raid in World of Warcraft may not have taught me more than my MBA, but it certainly was more than just playing a game. In ancient times, young men would play games to train for war. In modern times, everyone can play video games to train for work.