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Connected Entrepreneur

3 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Video Games

Connected Entrepreneur

Technology is transforming how modern entrepreneurs stay connected to their business, their team and their industry. In this series, learn more about the cutting edge tools and thinking allowing innovators to stay ahead of the trends.

3 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Video Games
Image credit: R Pollard

Gaming may often be dismissed as a frivolous and unproductive waste of time. But, yes, entrepreneurs should take notice. There are important business lessons to be learned from video games and the gaming industry itself.

We spoke with Dmitri Williams, chief executive of Ninja Metrics, a Minneapolis-based social and game analytics startup about three principles in awesome video games that can help your business succeed:

1. Make work fun.
Believe it or not, money isn’t the main reason people work hard, Williams says. Instead, people are most productive when they enjoy and find meaning in their work. “They like their job because of the social reinforcement they get and because they like the tasks,” Williams adds.

Online gaming is a form of work that people literally pay to do. It requires critical thinking, organizing large groups and managing individuals, all skills that are applicable in a work environment. Like a great game, Williams says, a great job will have be challenging, rewarding and allow for risk taking.

“If someone's job is too easy or too hard, they'll hate it, and hate you for making them do it,” Williams says. “Find the right level and they're motivated. This, combined with social reinforcement, is a more effective [motivator] than money.”

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2. Allow employees to take risks.
“Games are almost always puzzles and algorithms to solve,” Williams says. “Solving them takes risk, iterations, and failure.”

When failing is acceptable and even expected, it allows for a culture of risk-taking that fosters creative thought that leads to discovery and alternative solutions. Instead of simply working and learning by being told, employees should be encouraged to do things in new and different ways.

“Making ‘do over’ acceptable is a good thing,” Williams says.

3. Diversity is simply smart business.
In video games, Williams explains, there are three basic roles: attacker, defender and healer -- each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Without each complementary role, the team loses. The same applies in real life.

“If everyone's a wizard, you lose,” Williams says. Diverse backgrounds lead to better teams, smarter outcomes and better processes, he says.

“A video game is the rare place where a 12 year old boy and a 60 year old female attorney and a 30 year old Latina musician are coming together to solve a problem,” he continues. “And they think differently. They may not relate outside the game but they complement each other.”

Related: Not Fun and Games: Weak Wii U Sales Leads Nintendo to Lower Forecast

Benjamin Kabin is a Brooklyn-based technology journalist who specializes in security, startups, venture capital and social media.

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