Video games can help with mental skills like problem-solving, planning and teamwork – all essential for a project manager. On the other hand, the hobby isn’t risk-free. Yet, limiting your playing time to up to four hours daily can ensure a positive effect.

To show how playing video games can enhance the way you manage projects, let’s focus on my favorite multiplayer game that has highly influenced me since I was a child: World of Warcraft. Recent studies conclude this types of video games can significantly build-up:

  • communication skills
  • teamwork skills
  • execution skills

Moreover, you have to show your imagination and planning skills the first time you log into the World of Warcraft. Your first task is creating your character from scratch. While doing this, you should keep in mind that you will be traveling the world and defeating dangerous foes and obstacles with it. Hence, create your player based on how you intend to go about the challenges. For example, pick the class and race of your character adequate to your playing level and strategy. It might even be beneficial to do some research about it if you are new to the game.

However, no matter your initial decisions, teamwork will be the key to a successful game. Yes, you can do it alone, yet collaborating with random strangers and using effective communication will make the experience more eventful, valuable and, most importantly, fun.

Communication Practice That Never Stops

Effective communication is significant for your success when playing a multiplayer game. In the World of Warcraft, this is shown very early. How?

You are faced with obstacles early in the game, already in the starting zone. To defeat them, you are somewhat obligated to communicate with other players around you. For example, suppose you have issues finding a specific farm to get your hands on a special ale to defeat your first enemy. Instead of looking for it for several hours, you can complete this task by consulting other players and asking them to help you by sharing their experiences.

Furthermore, like in real-life moments of despair, most demanding tasks can only be solved through effective communication. Don't you agree the same is true when managing the most fragile fragments of a project?

As a result, from the very beginning and up until you actually stop playing the game, The World of Warcraft will make you question yourself:

  • How good of a communicator are you in general?
  • How to send a clear message to your teammates?
  • How constructive is your communication while delegating tasks?

By reflecting on the questions while you are playing, you can:

  • Work on overall communication skill improvements.
  • Test different communication styles.
  • Take various approaches to task delegation to see what works best for you.

Keeping Your Team in Sync

Most online video games heavily introduce team roles, making effective team syncs important.

In the World of Warcraft, for example, you have different roles:

  • the ones that do damage
  • the ones that retrieve damage by taunting enemies
  • the ones that can heal others (and usually nobody wants to play)

Here you should also remember that each role has a unique skill setup. As a result, synchronizing with everyone becomes very complex and even more life-like.

For instance, to kill that giant dragon, you have to set up a team first and align their expectations to kill that giant dragon. Then, to be able to do it, you need to communicate with random strangers who have the same common goal as yours – ‘Killing the Dragon.’ After, you have to align your team's expectations about what they are expected to do while considering their mission role and skills to contribute to the team.

All of this gave me three lessons, which I can use as a project manager:

  1. Like in the game, there are also different people with different goals and skillsets in your team. Pinpointing the ones that can put your project on the road to success is crucial.
  2. It is also crucial to join forces with team members who bring various skills to the table.
  3. It is tough to do everything alone on a project, as in the game. Completing your goals, tasks and milestones become much easier with teamwork.

To put it shortly, valuing every team member and knowing their worth will take your projects to higher places – higher than the dragon you’d want to destroy so badly in the game!

Execution and Rewards

The final element of my study about how online video games enhance your project managing skills is execution.

In World of Warcraft, you get rewards and dopamine points once you’ve completed quests, defeated enemies, and tackled obstacles. Pretty much the same feeling you get when finishing a demanding task or resolving a complex bug ticket. Comparing the two, we can learn that it takes communication and teamwork to achieve a common goal. Moreover, being good at both will enable you to do it better and earn better rewards.

The game World of Warcraft will give you a higher count of dopamine points and bring you higher up on the leadership board. Finally, real-life and better-managed projects will get you and your team a better reputation, smoother time management and more satisfied clients.