Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Leadership in video games

Some study leadership reading Sun Tzu’s Art of War. Let’s be a bit funnier and study leadership in video games. Mom, read on, it’s serious.

I played a MMORPG a few years ago. You know, World of Warcraft, this kind of games. The game was Dark Age of Camelot. One of the main interest of the game was that beside making raids to kill monsters, you played in one of three realms that waged war against the other two, leading to events in the warzone where armies of up to 200 players would fight for strategic assets. Think of Braveheart, with 600 players in the warzone.

If you want 200 players of a realm to coordinate, you have to have a leader. And I was amazed to encounter in a video game a handful of individuals who were able to lead masses of people with great skill. I knew one particular guy who was so respected that he only had to call for help and hundreds of players interrupted what they where doing and came to him. These leaders where not necessarily the most hardcore players, or the best players: they just had a knack for leadership.

I actually was kinda fascinated, and started analyzing what made them so exceptional. There were actually a few points:

  1. They respected people and obeyed the golden rule.
  2. They where good players with good play skill, who had the respect of even the most hardcore gamers.
  3. They had awesome communication skills and the best communication devices, using for example teamspeak besides the in-game chat.
  4. They had a plan and had done their homework, testing it beforehand.
    "Destroying this tower takes 4mins, we have 2 minutes to evacuate and ambush here. Go."
  5. If the plan encountered a problem, they made "vital" decisions in a split second.
    "Everybody Kamikaze on this gate, it’s our only hope of creating enough confusion to sneak the Relic through."
    Everybody died, except the relic holder. Nobody actually believed we pulled it off.
  6. They said "No" a lot to demands of individual players.
    "No we are not making a stop to this monster, the aim is to kill the Dragon!"
  7. They knew how to delegate, delegating complex tasks to hardcore gamers,staying with the casuals in order to inspire them and teach them.
    "Go and take this tower, you have two hours, your diversion is the key of the plan, do not fail us"

  8. They assessed people very fast (not easy via an in-game chat), knowing instinctively what objectives to give to whom.
  9. They had fun!

I think the key of their ability to raise a realm laid in point 1. The key of the success of the events they lead lay in the other points.

Isn’t it funny how well this translates to leading a software development team? This translation is left as an exercise to the reader ,).


Anonymous said...

Same thoughts in an article from "Entreprise 2.0" website (in french) :
De l'intérêt de World of Warcraft pour nous préparer à l'entreprise 2.0

Loïc said...

Hey that's funny. I didn't read any posts about the topic before. Thank you for the link.

Anonymous said...

I think one of your advertisements caused my internet browser to resize, you might want to put that on your blacklist.

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