IBM Study: Online multiplayer games build business leaders

A study released by IBM and collaboration software maker Seriosity found significant parallels between business leaders and massively multiplayer online role-playing gamers.

Hmmm, which would you choose?

Sitting in a dreary classroom to bone up on an MBA, or stretched out in an easy chair honing your business leadership skills while engaged in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG)?

A study released by IBM and collaboration software maker Seriosity found significant parallels between business leaders and MMORPG gamers.

MMORPG games, which include World of Warcraft, Eve Online and EverQuest, can include millions of players who come together in various groups to accomplish a specific mission or task.

Gamers learn collaboration, self-organization, risk taking, openness, influence and how to earn incentives when involved in a MMORPG, according to a study of 200 members of IBM's internal gaming community.

"Smart organizations are recognizing valued employees who play online games and apply their skills and experiences as virtual leaders to their 'real world' jobs," says Jim Spohrer, IBM Research Center's director of services research.

Half of survey participants said playing MMORPGs improved their "real world" leadership skills, while 4 out of 10 surveyed indicated they have applied such game leadership techniques to the workplace.

The survey found that leadership roles are far more fleeting among MMORPG players than in the real world. Leadership is viewed as a role an individual plays to accomplish a specific task, rather than one that remains for an indefinite duration.

"The implications of this for corporate settings are obvious," the study notes. "Given the rapid pace of change in today's global business environment, the need for this kind of leadership flexibility is apparent, having the option of swapping leaders in and out, depending on the task, the time frame of a project and the skill sets of the available team members."

The study notes, however, that MMORPGs also can identify those with exceptional relationship skills, managers who can build a large group of direct reports and keep them headed in the correct direction for longer periods of time.

All this may be prove new hunting grounds for executive recruiters, who may turn to MMORPGs for their next assignment.

Featured Video

We pummel the powder in Nissan's Winter Warrior concepts

Equipped with suspension lifts and actual tracks, these concepts are meant to reach places that no ordinary vehicle can.

by Jon Wong