Once frowned upon online gaming in the workplace is not only gaining acceptance, it is fast becoming important training tools for how we do business in the 21st century. While some employers are simply allowing employees to play online games for stress relief, others are looking more seriously at the skills today’s online gamers are bringing to the table and finding that online games for the workplace can be a powerful way to train addicted.
The first online multi-user games became available in the late 1970s, where the main focus was on competition between 2 players. From those early beginnings, as hardware systems and software development become more complex, online gaming systems have also evolved from text-based adventures to Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG).
As these games grew in complexity, researchers became fascinated by the effects on the brain of gaming activity. In the early 1990s, researchers found that the brain function of players playing the popular Tetris game became more efficient in multiple areas, including critical thinking, reasoning, language and information processing.
The first MMORPG games became available in the early 1990s. The basis of these games generally follows a model of character creation and customization, a form of progression through worlds or levels, social interaction with other characters, immersion in the culture of the game and development of familiarity with the system architecture.W88
The development of the MMORPG game progressed rapidly over the next 20 years, leading to the creation of virtual worlds that included sophisticated communication systems and complex social systems that encourage players to collaborate to progress to higher levels.
The increasing complexity of these games, combined with the interactions that occur during the game, have led psychologists and sociologists to study MMORPG players in depth. Their findings show that these online game players have developed far beyond their Tetris predecessors and are displaying a wide range of skills that are now in high demand in today’s growing business world.
The attributes that online gamers develop as a result of playing MMORPG games include the following:
Social strategic thinking
Interpretative analysis of strengths and weaknesses
Identification of the pros and cons
Plan training and execution to achieve a goal
Management of complex situations
Ability to adapt to ambiguous and rapidly changing situations under pressure
Group decision making
Exercise judgment under pressure
Sequence of activities
Cooperation directed towards the objectives
Development of information flow
Spatial orientation and ability to process information
Ability to communicate interculturally
The military has long recognized the value of using games and simulations for high-level training operations. Companies that recognize the skills that online gamers bring to the field are now leading the way in implementing online games for the workplace. As more and more companies expand into world markets, there will be a growing need to involve people who can develop and function in an environment where virtual teams are created globally to manage and organize projects. Online workplace games are now being used by astute business leaders as powerful tools for forming an emerging progressive workforce.