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Blog: Distributed, Fast-Paced and Fiercely Competitive

Blog: Distributed, Fast-Paced and Fiercely Competitive

"Open your eyes, Pilot. A new world is here."

So goes the intro to EVE-Online, one of a new generation of what are known as massively multiplayer online games (also called MMOGs). In these online games, players from all over the globe log into virtual worlds via the Internet; they learn different roles and skill sets, and come together in self-selecting teams to carry out missions in pursuit of common goals. Question: How is this any different than the challenges that await us in the global real-time economy we now inhabit?

If you're part of the generation just starting out in business, answers to this question probably seem pretty obvious. If you're part of a generation that's already been in business for a while, answers might not seem so obvious (at first). If you are now in your 20s, you may have a set of skills and behaviors that will become increasingly valuable in business, and you probably developed them through many hours of online gaming. Popular MMOGs such as EVE-Online, EverQuest, and World of Warcraft bring together hundreds of thousands of simultaneous online players from countries around the globe to interact in complex, three dimensional worlds based on themes from science-fiction and dungeons and dragons fantasy.

MMOGs are not to be confused with single person shooter games where individual players blast aliens and tough guys, steal cars, and get into street fights. Those games develop fast eye-hand coordination but not much else. And neither are we talking about virtual social worlds such as Second Life.

What we are talking about is online games where there are rules and politics and opportunities to collaborate with others and build your reputation and your fortune. To play these games, players have to interact with each other and build relationships and put together plans and go on missions. They join guilds or corporations that exist in these games; they develop specific skills related to the roles they play (roles like pilot, trader, wizard, warrior, hunter and priest); and they develop reputations and rating levels based on their successes and failures.

The potential for using MMOGs to develop skills people need to succeed in the global economy is starting to get serious attention. Recently a study titled "Virtual Worlds, Real Leaders" was done by IBM and some professors from Stanford University and MIT (who work together at a company named Seriosity). They focused their study in particular on the MMOG named World of Warcraft and came up with some interesting insights.

To begin with, here are a few quick facts: there are presently about 73 million online gamers worldwide with a compound annual growth rate of 36.5 per cent; average age of online gamers is 27 years; 56 per cent are male and 43 per cent are female (the last 1 per cent is either "other" or there is a rounding error somewhere). Other findings revolve around the concepts of leadership, and what this blogger sees as agility, and the differences in how those concepts are practiced in MMOGs and in the traditional corporate world.

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