MMOs and (Real-Life) leadership

I found this link a few days ago about leadership and MMOs and how it applies to real-life business:

Tens of millions of people are honing their leadership skills in multiplayer online games. The tools and techniques they’re using will change how leaders function tomorrow—and could make them more effective today.

Tomorrow’s business landscape could well be alien territory for today’s business leaders. At many companies, important decision making will be distributed throughout the organization to enable people to respond rapidly to change. A lot of work will be done by global teams—partly composed of people from outside the institution, over whom a leader has no formal authority—that are assembled for a single project and then disbanded. Collaboration within these geographically diverse groups will, by necessity, occur mainly through digital rather than face-to-face interaction.

What on earth will leadership look like in such a world—a world whose features have already begun to transform business?

Suspend your skepticism for a moment when we say that the answers may be found among the exploding space stations, grotesque monsters, and spiky-armored warriors of games such as Eve Online, EverQuest, and World of Warcraft. Despite their fantasy settings, these online play worlds—sometimes given the infelicitous moniker MMORPGs (for “massively multiplayer online role-playing games”)—in many ways resemble the coming environment we have described and thus open a window onto the future of real-world business leadership.

The whole article doesn’t have many new info for me, but it’s always nice to see your own views being detailedly confirmed by some smart academic people. Personally I find this stuff fascinating. MMOs are a great place for (young) people to explore and build-up abilities they were unaware of. And communities in MMOs of-course often require a lot of organization. The big 0.0 alliances in EVE have a incredibly complicated structure and the big successful raiding guilds probably have an efficiency that puts the average company to shame. Of course there’s something that can be learned from MMOs.

I remember playing in raiding guild in WoW for a short while a long-long time ago (must be 3 years ago?), we actually had a 14 year old kid as raid-leader in Molten Core back then. Funny right, having a 14 year old kid leading 40 mostly grown-up people (probably including one or two ‘very’ old 40+ people), he was at almost every raid and he was damn good as leader. Even funnier were the few times when he wasn’t able to show up. We failed, miserably. Wiping on bosses we had on ‘farm-status’ for several weeks.

And I think that’s just hilarious. That nobody was able to replace this kid (well, I’m sure that after a while someone competent would’ve stood up). It’s something unique that can’t be found outside multiplayer gaming. And I dare to say it was quite a worthwhile experience for the kid as well.

Personally I believe I learned quite a bit from MMOs as well. Especially in WoW as an officer, sometimes raid-leader and dealing with a raid-alliance, including all the drama, having to keep everyone happy and occasionally leading a raid-group. Yes, I do believe I (as a young person, still) learned some useful things about humans and I probably take more leading responsibility in my daily life than I would’ve done otherwise. I really believe that my 2 years in WoW have been more than just a time sinker and that it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

Oh, and for the interested people. There’s also an article about the same subject by IBM that probably is around a half year old now, it’s actually even more interesting than the harvard business article above and has some fun interview-quotes of players and game screenshots. PDF can be found here.

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~ by Alright Jack on April 30, 2008.

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