Project Management Institute

Game on

VOICES | In the Trenches

by Robert Castel, MBA, PMP

TO VIEW VIDEO GAMES AS POSSESSING only entertainment value is short-sighted and without merit.

Today's massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) impart social and innovative learning techniques for individuals and groups on a global scale—and to project management's benefit.

Games, particularly MMORPGs, teach players a plethora of emotional intelligence (EI) competencies, such as self-confidence, empathy, trustworthiness and communication.

Games are not about avoiding reality—they are about experiencing reality in a way that is naturally exploitative at many levels. A project team could very well engage themselves in a game, thereby increasing the EI of the entire team and its chances of project success. If EI is important to project management, then games represent an exciting and practical way for project teams to realize their collective social skills.

For example, in “World of Warcraft” (WoW), the world's largest MMORPG, players around the world assume the roles of heroic fantasy characters completing quests.

WoW's collaborative wiki—an environment of ideas, exploration, and knowledge accumulation and sharing—is second only to Wikipedia in size and is completely user- or player-generated. WoW's wiki, like all wikis, is an online learning post where iterative discussions evolve and knowledge management elements materialize for the project team and organization.

For an avid gamer, WoW's wiki can be a research tool and place to reach out to others for extended collaborative engagement. For a project professional, the benefits are equally analogous. More important, a wiki can provide the source to a project's narrative during its life cycle.

Games teach players a plethora of emotional intelligence (EI) competencies, such as self-confidence, empathy, trustworthiness and communication.

Further parallels between WoW, project management teams and EI can be found by focusing on a project's need for collaborative engagement.

In project management, the more a project team collaborates, the greater the likelihood of project success. Similarly, success in WoW requires a collective action and can involve groups of 10, 20 or more players, be they acquaintances or strangers. These “raid parties” form and function similarly to many project teams. In some cases, project managers work with colleagues, and other times, they engage with new people or external organizations. In both gaming teams and project teams, being truly collaborative is the only way to find the project team's intrinsic rewards.


Finally, communication is among one of the most important EI competencies. Within WoW, success prior to and during a coordinated battle with other players requires excellent communication—not unlike the planning and execution sessions of a project. Not all onslaughts with monsters or quests are successful, but players find the combination of communication and adaptive tactical approaches to be absorbing learning experiences. In this regard, project management has a similar experience in the implementation processes. PM



Robert Castel, MBA, PMP, is the founder of Information Resource Technologies, an IT consulting firm in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.




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