What Gaming has taught me about Business

While video games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, this was never terribly popular with my parents.  They would remark that I was spending too much time gaming - and I probably was!  But looking back over years of gaming I can pick out certain games or experiences that have helped prepare me for business.

Multithreading My Brain

One of the more difficult habits that raid healing in WoW broke for me was what is known as "tunneling".  Compared to a traditional DPS role where raid awareness and key rotations need to be balanced, healing introduces a third dimension: being aware of the entire raids health at any one time.  This requires a flexible mind with the ability to process a lot of information at one time and make split second decisions, while not becoming too focused on any one task.  If you spend too long staring at health bars you may miss the roof caving in above you, or if you hesitate for a split second on which heal to queue up you risk losing a key raid member.

The ability to process huge amounts of information and make quick decisions is key to business survival.  Just one example - beginning in 2016 we made the decision to book tournament events out through the next eight weeks.  By week four our entire team was stressed out of our minds, and realizing that there is just not much money to be made in offering tournaments for all the effort we put into it.  We quickly made the decision to pivot and started cancelling tournaments, and this has freed up our energies to focus on other projects (like this blog!).  We still plan to host tournaments but it is no longer our primary focus.

Progression, Regression & Perserverance

When my last WoW guild started our Heroic Blackhand attempts, our raid leader warned us that the average number of boss wipes was somewhere north of 50 before the first kill.  Being a top guild we showed up night after night, and through wipe after wipe slowly started to make measurable progress on the fight.  As the 50th wipe approached we felt like we were right on track and expected the kill any attempt, but the kill didn't materialize, and we went on to total 55, 60, 65 wipes.  We began to regress, at first blaming it on randomness and bad luck, but eventually starting to make sloppy mistakes and losing concentration.

70, 75, 80 wipes.  Guild morale was at an all-time low!  People started to bicker and snipe at one another.  There were whispers of some of our top talent even jumping ship to another guild that had recently passed us in progression.  Finally one raid night before we started our guild leader spoke to the group as a whole.  All we needed was to execute, he told us.  If everyone does their job and mistakes are kept to a minimum we would have the kill.  We took his words to heart and buckled down, and that very night on our 91st attempt, Blackhand fell to the sound of Mumble nerdgasms echoing from all over the country.

Business is a lot like raid progression.  You see measurable success for a while, and then it seems like the wheels just fall off, and you have to regroup and re-adjust before you can move on.  It's through constant improvement and perseverance that businesses grow to success.

Relying On Your Team

League of Legends is an interesting game that combines strategy & skill.  In addition to defending towers in three different "lanes", the team of five must come together to obtain objectives as a group.  In a typical game you might find one lane falling behind, while another lane is "getting fed".  This sometimes means you do the carrying, or sometimes your teammates have to carry you.

Clear communication and decisive decision making is vital to success.  The team must learn to combine their thinking and almost act as a single mind, as a split second of hesitation can make all the difference in a team fight.  In this way you have to learn to rely on your team and trust their decision making.  The teams that are all on the same page tend to outperform the teams that are not.

Appreciating the Grind

Lastly, both WoW and years of Poker have taught me an appreciation for the daily grind.  Results cannot be measured in days but in weeks, months & years.  You can stop to celebrate the minor victories along the way, but always keep reaching for that brass ring in the sky.
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