Monday, September 07, 2009
Learning from MMORPGs for real life success
Like in our discussion about the success in virtual worlds, real life has millions of different possible goals and definitions of success. But if you look at success defined by "recognition by others", the list of success criteria narrows down, and contains such staples as money, family, and a good job. MMORPGs are often suspected to be detrimental to real life success, with exaggerated reports of people spending so much time in a game that they neglect their job and family. While the famous "gamer in mama's basement" probably does exist, he is an extreme, not the general rule. Nevertheless it can be asked whether playing a MMORPG is a pure waste of time, or whether playing these games can teach us something which is good for real life success. So lets have a look at what we could learn from MMORPGs:
Hand-eye-coordination: Ronald Reagan famously suggested that playing video games would make good jet pilots. Unfortunately examples of jobs in which the hand-eye-coordination acquired in video games would come in handy are few and far between. Most jobs don't have anything remotely resembling a video game controller, and in the few jobs that have something like a joystick to control a machine, the machine is usually rather slow, and controlling it doesn't require milli-second reflexes.
Typing: The introduction of the PC into modern office life lead to the extinction of the typist. If you have an office job nowadays, you are supposed to type your e-mails, letters, memos, and reports yourself. Thus if due to chatting in an MMORPG you learned how to type faster, this is something that will come in handy in quite a lot of jobs. Fast typing is something you're likely to learn in a MMORPG, because unless you have voice chat, faster typing means faster communication. The only downside is that in a professional environment you'd have not only to type fast, but also spell correctly, and MMORPGs aren't exactly good at teaching that one.
Communication: Communication is a key factor of success both in MMORPGs and in real life, whether private or professional. Of course MMORPGs are full of examples of bad communication. But by being massively multiplayer there is a lot more chance of people learning to communicate in a MMORPG than if they played just single-player games. The same communication skills that make teamwork in a dungeon group a success can help a lot with teamwork in a professional environment.
Managing: Leading a successful guild, or even just a successful pickup group, requires management skills. People who do this regularly in MMORPGs will come out with a better understanding on how to motivate people, resolve conflicts, and handle limited resources (like raid slots and loot drops). All this can be very helpful both in a professional environment, and in managing your own private life.
So as you can see, there are a lot of useful skills that can be picked up by playing MMORPG, and which will help with real life success. Unfortunately that doesn't mean it is a good idea to put your guild leadership position in your CV, unless you apply for a job in the gaming industry. The skills I listed here are rather what is called "soft skills", skills which are useful, but which you normally don't have a diploma for. You'd have to demonstrate communication and managing skills in your job interview, or once you got the job just apply them. And obviously you'll have to find the right balance between spending time in the real world and in virtual worlds if you want real life success.