Online games in the workplace, once frowned upon, are not only gaining acceptance, but are rapidly becoming important training tools for the way we do business in the 21st century. While some employers are simply allowing employees to play online games for stress relief, others are taking a more serious look at the skills that today’s online gamers are bringing to the table, and discovering that online games for the workplace can be a powerful way to train employees.
The first online multi-user games became available in the late 1970’s where the main focus was competition between 2 players. Since those early beginnings, as hardware systems and software development become more complex, online gaming systems also evolved from text-based adventures to Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG).
As these games grew in complexity, researchers became fascinated with the effects on the brain by game-playing activity. In the early 1990’s researchers discovered that the brain function of game players that played the popular Tetris game became more efficient in multiple areas, including critical thinking, reasoning, language, and information processing.
The earliest MMORPG games became available in the early 1990’s. The basis of these games generally follow a pattern of character creation and customization, a form of progression through worlds or levels, social interaction with other characters, immersion in game culture, and developing familiarity with system architecture.
MMORPG game development progressed swiftly over the next 20 years, resulting in the creation of virtual worlds that included sophisticated communication systems and complex social systems that encourage players to collaborate in order to progress to higher levels.
The increasing complexity of these games combined with the interactions that take place during game play have enticed psychologists and sociologists to study MMORPG game-players in depth. Their findings show that these online game-players have developed far beyond their Tetris predecessors, and are displaying a vast array of skills that are now in high demand in today’s growing business world.
Attributes that online gamers develop as a result of playing MMORPG games include the following:
Social Strategic Thinking
Interpretive Analysis of Strengths and Weaknesses
Identifying Pros and Cons
Plan Formation and Execution to Achieve a Goal
Management of Complex Situations
Ability to Adapt to Rapidly Changing, Ambiguous Situations Under Pressure
Exercising Judgment Under Pressure
Goal Directed Cooperation
Formation of Networks
Developing Information Flow
Spatial Orientation and Ability to Process Information
Ability to Communicate Cross-Culturally
The military has long recognized the value in using games and simulations for high-level training operations. Businesses recognizing the skills that online gamers bring to the table are now leading the way to implementing online games for the workplace. As more companies expand into world-wide markets, there will be an increasing need to bring in people that can develop and function in an environment where virtual teams are created globally to manage and organize projects. Online games for the workplace are now being used by astute business leaders as powerful tools to train an emerging progressive workforce.