gamers make better managers

There was a time, and not so long ago, when a propensity for video games was seen as the polar opposite of having what it takes to be successful in business. Now, however, as we enter the mid-2020, things are different. In key markets like Australia, where migration patterns are dictated by industry need, tech is now a top three sector, and gaming is one of the fastest growing niches. 

But even in careers that have no direct correlation with gaming, skill with a game controller can be an indicator of success in the board room. That at least, is the conclusion drawn by a study published by Alexander Simons of the University of Lichtenstein. Let’s dig a little deeper. 

Video gaming skills correspond to managerial skills

Dr Simons used the 2011 strategy game Civilization to explore whether gaming skills in this context are in any way indicative of managerial skills and, if so, of what specific skills. He and his team worked with 40 volunteer business students and asked them to play the game and participate in a set of exercises under controlled conditions. 

The study found that students with higher scores in the game were the same as those who exhibited better skills related to problem-solving, planning and organizational tasks in the context of their business studies. Dr Simons has also performed some analysis on more qualitative in-game data such as player interactions and in-game messages. He believes that these could provide further insights into personality traits. 

Dr Simons concluded that there is certainly value in using games like Civilization to assess specific management skills related to problem-solving, planning and organization. He recommended the gathering and analysis of in-game data to derive useful insights for profilers, head hunters and others searching for talent. 

The deeper analysis into more qualitative aspects is still ongoing, and Dr Simons commented that he intends not only to continue with the analysis of data from this study, but also to carry out more studies over the coming months. These will look at how Civilization, and indeed other games, can help with assessing management capabilities.

Taking the studies beyond the casino

This is not the first study to compare gaming performance with business success. However, past studies have usually focused on gambling games, especially in nations like Australia, where gambling is part of the national culture. There has been plenty of discussion over the past year or two in the Australian media about gambling, and not just the negative aspects that always seem to hit the headlines. We also see studies correlating poker success with business success in Australia or comparing the way someone plays online pokies in Australia to their risk appetite at work.

In addition, these studies have looked at how the more successful gamblers are the ones who are best at eliminating bias and seeing what is before them – whether it is a hand of cards, a set of symbols on a pokie or perhaps a draft contract drawn up by a potential client. This provides an interesting perspective, as it takes the study of gambling behavior beyond the usual formulaic territories of risk and return – important though these are. 

Saving time and money for recruiters

Dr Markus Weinmann, who worked alongside Dr Simons on the study, remarked that the assessment process employed was broadly similar to that which is already used by many large organizations in their recruitment processes, but with one notable difference. While they spend thousands developing specific games in-house, this method uses a real game that anyone can download for the price of a couple of cups of coffee. 

The next phase of results from the study will be released later this year, and we await their publication with interest.


By Jim O Brien/CEO

CEO and expert in transport and Mobile tech. A fan 20 years, mobile consultant, Nokia Mobile expert, Former Nokia/Microsoft VIP,Multiple forum tech supporter with worldwide top ranking,Working in the background on mobile technology, Weekly radio show, Featured on the RTE consumer show, Cavan TV and on TRT WORLD. Award winning Technology reviewer and blogger. Security and logisitcs Professional.

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