5 work-life skills multiplayer online games develop

Playing multiplayer online games can be a lot fun. Have you ever thought they can act as a way to develop yourself? Recently I’ve thought about how to use my time effectively to both improve my skills and relieve the stress from uncertainty. There are, of course, many ways to improve and relax separately. For example online courses are great for learning. However, seldom I find it relaxing to plow through the lessons and assignments. Then there are relaxing activities like hanging out with friends or watching Netflix. But it’s a small amount of the discussions and content that actually does something to improve you.

For me video games, and especially massive multiplayer online role-playing games—or MMORPGs in short—are an effective way to relax and take my mind off anything that bothers me, but playing is traditionally seen as a waste of time. However, in moderation, I thought, it can be an effective way to develop yourself in many aspects of life as well.

Examples of well known MMORPGs at the time of writing include Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2 and World of Warcraft. The games are generally very similar in principle: you create your character, advance in the world by completing certain tasks and deeds, team up with other players on your way and do your best to improve and achieve everything the creators of the game have in store. Does not require much, right? Well, I think it does if you do it properly. Here are five skills I have found online games can develop.

1. Task management

Most multiplayer online games are all about managing your time effectively. Usually there are multiple choices on how to develop and work your way up. You could, for example, follow a chain of tasks given by the characters in the game world. Or craft equipment such as armour or weapons for yourself and anyone else in need. There could be timed events that can only be completed on certain dates or times of day. With so many choices and only a limited time to spend on them, prioritising these tasks becomes a central problem in the game world. No wonder a whole new market for strategy guides for video games has developed.

An experienced gamer is likely to be very organised with the matters they care about. Besides time constraints, the gamer is usually constrained on other resources as well. This is exactly the case in project management and basically all work. I for one can say that project work suits me well, because I’ve developed the skill to see the dependencies of different tasks and create a prioritisation of them.

2. Teamwork

Multiplayer online games are usually filled with team-oriented content called dungeons or instances. They are structured so that the players will need to work together to solve puzzles and defeat powerful foes. To succeed, you will need to have the proper mix of different play styles together. Each MMORPG has some kind of job or class system, which makes players choose what kind of role they want to play. For example, a tank stands in the frontlines and keeps the opponents’ attention to themselves, while the healer makes sure the team stays in good health.

A gamer is likely to be accustomed to working in a team setting. The catch in online games is that usually you can play the basic content solo, but as you advance throughout the game world, you are required to team up with other adventurers. And oh boy, the team needs to be a well-oiled machine to succeed. This is very much the case in real world as well. We cannot succeed without the help of others, and like in games, diverse opinions and backgrounds are a recipe for success.

3. Entrepreneurial mindset

If you start a multiplayer online game with no prior connections, you are likely hard pressed to make them. You will need to earn income, find partners to support you and develop yourself. To make yourself more appealing to prestigious guilds, you have to gather experience and a way to show that you are a good candidate. There are, of course, a number of ways to go around this, and some games offer a so called “pay to win” option, where you can use real money to speed up your progress.

Replace “guilds” with “workplaces” and this sounds a lot like what new company owners—and basically anyone in the modern workforce—need to do as well. Work has evolved into much more than just a way to put the bread on the table, and everyone with ambition needs to be a bit more entrepreneurial these days. Workers will need to constantly learn to use new technologies and ways of working to stay relevant and make progress on their career.

4. Problem solving

All kinds of puzzles, quizzes and mysteries are an integral part of many multiplayer online games. Many of them require logical reasoning and can sometimes have an immersive amount of background information to them. This kind of game content can be a great way to flex those problem solving muscles. And the same principles can be applied anywhere else.

At work problem solving is a skill that is required constantly. In product development for example, you would need to gather information about the market and other factors. You would then use this information to come to an optimal solution—while keeping in mind the time and resources available. Or in management consulting where you would need to get to know the client and the problem they are facing and tailor a project to help them conquer it. It all comes down to putting information together and solving the problem at hand.

5. Leadership

The worlds of multiplayer online games are filled with leaders. Everyone is the master of their own fortune and there are even those in charge of organisations of real people. I’m talking about guilds. The experience one can get as a leader of a guild can vary greatly, but it’s all up to the player to determine how good it is. You can be a lazy leader, or you can really build community and team spirit by arranging regular events and promoting your guild.

Again, immediate links to work-life. Much like a leader of a great guild, a leader of a great team is a team player who knows how to keep the team motivated. Not all of us can claim they have united 50 people from diverse backgrounds to work towards common goals. And to have an organisation motivated and happy to do the work!

This is the first post on Load Last Save, and I would be more than happy to hear your thoughts. Are games as bad for you as they say? Do you have a story to share where the skills you developed as a gamer have come handy?