Using games to develop a better business

Technology is a driving force in society that changes how we perceive and interact with the world. It forces us to re-evaluate what people are capable of, because modern technology is constantly improving productivity and the creative abilities of the global population. It enables us to connect, share ideas, learn, and grow like never before. Across Canada, almost all industries have benefitted from the integration of technology and innovation. Manufacturing has implemented computer controlled machining; accounting has been simplified with Microsoft Excel; and now human resources has video games. This blog will further examine how hiring people who play video games can increase your business’ internal technical and innovative talent.

Overcoming Video Game Resistance in Business

To many, the idea of video games in the workplace seems ridiculous. It is an invention, born from the same whimsical thinking of dot-com companies. They are ideas similar to Google’s playground spanning several floors, or employees firing Nerf Guns while working at Ubisoft. While one can dismiss these activities as being meaningless to business performance, it can’t be overlooked that both companies are among the most innovative, successful businesses in their industries. Games, including video games, are a core philosophy that they use to encourage alternate methods of thinking and problem solving, while also allowing their employees to have fun.

So why is it that businesses instantly upgrade to the newest version of Microsoft Office, yet never consider purchasing the next Microsoft Xbox? Let’s examine the barriers that stop businesses from engaging in gaming activities.

False Perception: Video Games are a Source of Laziness

The perception that “gamers” are lazy was largely born out of 1990’s parenting paranoia. Parents bubble-wrapped their kids from things they were largely misinformed of, which at the time was a newly emerging industry that would soon revolutionize the world. Parents would rather their children practice basketball (also a game) by shooting 100 hoops every night than to be inside playing new quests or missions through an online universe.

Why is it so much easier to imagine a parent telling their child to read a book versus play a video game? Because the misconception is that video games are just that: games. There is a failure to recognize that this form of entertainment has moved beyond a Pong ball travelling across a screen. Modern video games are the culmination of powerful narratives and complex user-controlled decisions. They also require an incredible amount of skill, which businesses can take advantage of.

Related Blog: The 4 New Engineering & Design Technologies Changing How We Create – Newly emerging technologies will soon transform the way we create and do business. Understand how industry will use these new innovations to be at the forefront of our lives.

Businesses Seek Soft Skills During Recruitment Process

During the early stages of my career, I have had the privilege of being part of the hiring process for several prolific companies. As part of this recruitment, I’ve seen many stacks of job applications, of which I had to sift through and find top talent. Unsurprisingly, I have never come across a résumé that prominently featured video games as a hobby. What I found (more often than not) were résumés that featured accomplishments in organized sports. Of the skills that can be derived from this type of experience, teamwork, coaching, self-improvement, hard work, and discipline all come to mind. So what if many (if not more) of these characteristics can be strengthened from engaging in video games?

The Direct Benefits of Playing Games for Business

To identify how video games can be used to develop an employee’s skills, let’s take a look at perhaps the most prolific game in recent history, World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft is an expansive multiplayer online role-playing game (RPG) that boasted nearly 10 million players at the height of its popularity. In the game, players control an avatar and explore landscape, fight monsters, manage resources, complete quests, and interact with both simulated characters and other online players. Regular gameplay requires problem solving to address new and hidden game mechanics, optimization of equipment used, and efficiently levelling up characters. More advanced players can join guilds in order to participate in end-game “raids” (cinematic boss fights). These encounters are marked by very unforgiving gameplay mechanics requiring precise timing, exact management of assets (spells and weapon abilities), coordination, and teamwork to avoid failure for the entire group. Large raids have multiple leaders who coach team members to maximize their potential and manage conflict. Other transferrable skills from the game include financial management, multitasking, and developing customized dashboards. Did I mention that these skills are all practiced in spare time for fun?

Related Blog: Why Team Collaboration is Critical to Success – Working as a team provides benefits not achievable by individuals working alone. Inspire collaboration to receive the best work from employees.

Video games can help your business before a candidate walks through the door

This analysis of modern games should provide “food for thought” when making your next hire. Applicants for highly skilled technical roles should be asked for information, since it can sometimes be as valuable as their work experience. The best part is, if your candidate does play games, it allows a natural, passionate conversation to take place in the frame of what, for many, be an intimidating environment. It may allow you to look twice at prospective employees that would have gone unnoticed, as technically apt individuals are famously introverted and need prompting at times. These types of conversations could allow you to hire your next best employee.

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Travis is a Business Funding Analyst with Mentor Works.  He combines extensive university research with personal experience from technology, retail, and manufacturing sectors, which he brings to the Mentor Works team.

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