With that sentence, John Seely Brown from Big Think had my complete attention.
In this 6 minute video, Brown talks about the collaborative and creative aspects of this massively popular online game. He says what gamers have been saying for years:
"Do not think about it as just gameplay, but look at the social life on the edge of the game."
As someone who played WoW for over four years, I can relate to everything he is saying. If you have 6 minutes to watch this video, please do.
Since I am a former player, let me elaborate on his ideas a little bit.
BACKGROUND: I was a Druid, a utility-class character. I had others, but this was my 'main' dude. Druids can serve as every single role in the game. They can tank (take the blows from an enemy while others attack), do damage (both physical and magical) and can heal others. When you change your specifications one of four ways (or a hybrid combination) you can be a formidable beast.
I was in a high-ranking guild on a heavy-population server. Most people can do one role very well, and fill in other areas as needed. On a server of over 20,000 players, I was the #4 ranked Druid Tank and the #6 ranked Casting Druid at one point. At the same time. I think I was ranked in the 30's or 40's for healing as well. Unheard of, and this took a lot of effort/planning/preparation on my part.
|Healing metrics for a boss encounter. LOTS of data to analyze.|
Brown talks about how the guilds are "meritocracy based" and good players/groups are doing constant self evaluation. Every top-tier player wants to be in a top-tier guild, and has to be interviewed, evaluated, and 'earn their keep' on a regular basis. If you falter, there is a miles-long line of people ready and willing to take your place. Like I do in the business world, I made myself an invaluable part of the team. I was "the glue" that helped hold things together.
In a guild environment, all players evaluate themselves and other teammates on a regular basis. From the top-down, from the leader to the newest member, everyone critiques each other. No one is exempt. Weak-points within are identified and either repaired or replaced (leading incorrectly, bad heals, etc). The guild is a living, breathing organism; constantly changing, learning, and growing (or dying).
In a business environment, how often do you get to give a performance review to those above you??
As Brown states, WoW is a "fundamentally collaborative game" on the high end. When you are a part of top-tier guilds, you go into encounters with 10, 25, sometimes 40 players. As a raid leader, you need to:
- Know the roles of all players, and what they are doing during the entire encounter.
- Know the strengths and weaknesses of all teammates, with contingency plans in case one (or more) of the players fall or fails to show up.
- Know the strategy of the encounter, and constantly come up with new ideas and 'angles' if Plan A does not work.
...as well as ensure players have the proper resources, are 'specced' correctly, etc. A lot of this is self-managed (a good player, like a good employee, comes prepared) but a leader's job is to make sure all the pieces fit, and all players are on the same page.
A bad leader will sound like this during an encounter:
(Have you had experience with bosses that sound like that dude? I have.... in both the gaming world and the business world...)
Teamwork drives the game, just as teamwork drives business. Everyone needs to do their job in order to reach the intended goal. In the gaming world, players are always self-evaluating and looking for ways to improve and advance.
Take that concept into the business world. Do you measure your performance on a regular basis? Are you constantly striving for improvement? Do you better yourself on a regular basis?
Why not? Whether you are the top of the food chain or just a cog turning a gear turning a dial, you serve a purpose and a function. Why not be the very best ___ you can be, without someone 'managing' you and telling you how to function?
My favorite quote is how Brown ends his video. "It (gaming) is an amazing learning environment with powerful learning tools, that I think... we in the management world can learn from. But it gets back to the notion of passion, of curiosity, and this interest-driven phenomenon that unleashes exponential learning."
Man oh man, I wish I could use that same phrasing to describe my nine-to-five. I like what I do, but I can't say that about my job.
....but what if we could? Brown hears the phrase "if I ain't learnin, I ain't havin fun" a lot when he plays. That should be every business' new slogan, if they want to succeed and grow in today's environment.