Does Online Gaming Produce Better leaders?


In an effort to flood the boards with blog posts I decided to touch on a research paper I had written five years ago. As this was 20 pages long and filled with lots of math, charts, and graphs I will be breaking it up into two or three different blogs. I find it funny that there is such a strong stigma in regards to this topic even now. When I submitted this paper the research was relatively new and for the most part very sparse. My paper was pretty much laughed at and I moved on to safer things. So here we go again, let's test these theories one more time.


As college students we all want to be leaders. We expect our time here to help us grow and to give us the tools we need in order to be successful in our future professions. As an ROTC cadet understanding the fundamentals of leadership is extremely important. I can remember one of my first days in class we were asked to define what leadership meant to us and the fundamentals that shaped it. I have always thought that leadership is not something that can be taught, but is something that is honed through experience. As young people there is very little available to us that offers such a significant opportunity.

So what if I told you that there was an easy, cheap and effective way to gain important leadership experience? Online gaming is an incredible untapped resource for anyone that is just a little ambitious. Since writing my paper on this the research has begun to flood the Internet and media. Companies such as IBM, DoD, and even the military have begun to see its value. The truth is virtual worlds allow players to experience the same scenarios over and over while trying different methods. This allows the player to see what can work and what won't.

So I babbled enough about my beliefs, but where is the science right? Well the report I will site the most throughout my series on this subject was written in 2007 by Seriousity and IBM.  This was a groundbreaking study as it formed a strong correlation between gaming and an increase of leadership skills. So what are these important leadership skills observed? The research team used something called the "Sloan Leadership Model" This model is widely regarded as what is at the core of successful leaders. At its perfect state it resembles a diamond. It was noted during the course of this study that online gamers in a leadership position had significantly skewed Sloan properties focusing on more on relating than anything else.

leadership model.jpg

We as humans learn best through our failures. I'm sure we have all heard the example of don't touch the stove because it is hot and then touching it anyway. We hear examples like this all the time. Accidental learning is a pivotal component of online gaming. Here players have a safe environment where it is ok to fail. Players can learn what leadership techniques work or strategies to employ to motivate people without any real consequence.

It is also important to note that without any reinforcement these skills will still be quite raw, but will still be above peers who do not pursue these avenues.

IBM document
Marketing Vox article
Wall Street Journal


So what do you think? Could online gaming be a useful tool to help leaders hone their skills?

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