SPENDING your free time playing online games can boost your leadership skills and learning at work, according to researchers at Newcastle University Business School.
Multiplayer online role-playing games, like World of Warcraft and The Lord of the Rings Online, have been at the centre of a study looking at the impact these virtual spaces can have on an employee’s behaviour at work.
The one-month study by the University of Crete and Dr Savvas Papagiannidis, from Newcastle University Business School, took a sample of players from the thousands who frequently take part in the games.
It looked at how they learn new skills needed at work.
Gamers are driven by the desire to solve problems and to win points to raise the status of their avatar, as so often are jobs. From collaboration to meeting targets, team work to resolve complex missions, strategic planning, allocating resources, to recruiting new players to form groups, there is a clear link between the skills needed to enjoy a good game performance, and the real corporate world.
And gamers who are developing these skills are making themselves better equipped to climb the ladder at work. This spill-over effect was particularly evident when combined with high performance standards in the game and companies could use gaming in training, said the research.
Newcastle University’s Dr Papagiannidis said: “As a gamer myself, I have always had an interest in how gaming behaviour can transcend the borders of the gaming environment. The results from our research support the connection between in-game transformational leadership, and active learning, spilling over into work.
“As the working world demands international collaboration across continents within online environments like emails, webinars and e-conferences, we are more virtual than ever before.
“Through this increase in interactive business activity via the evolving information systems available, and our research findings, I believe that these games could be a viable training method used by corporations to aid staff development, and hone good leadership.” Dr Despoina Xanthopoulou said: “Despite the fact that the literature on the negative, addictive, effects of games is quite rich, research on the potential positive effects of gaming is scarce.
“This is one of the first studies that investigates how online games can be beneficial for our real-life employment. One of the unique features of this study is in the finding that in-game leadership skills and learning behaviours spill over to work, particularly when combined with high performance in the game.
“When certain leadership skills and learning behaviours are combined with feelings of competence and success, these are highly valued, and that is when people tend to mimic them outside the game environment.”