From World of Warcraft to the boardroom

From World of Warcraft to the boardroom

Summary: Some people are saying that the massive multiplayer game World of Warcraft, with more than 6 million players, is the new golf of the business world. Hitting a small white ball around a chemically groomed park isn't for everyone, and is more expensive than the $15 per month fee for WOW, but at least you get some fresh air and exercise.

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TOPICS: Intel
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wow1.jpgSome people are saying that the massive multiplayer game World of Warcraft, with more than 6 million players, is the new golf of the business world. Hitting a small white ball around a chemically groomed park isn't for everyone, and is more expensive than the $15 per month fee for WOW, but at least you get some fresh air and exercise. But, the virtues of virtual worlds like WOW and Second Life are now the subject of serious study and even startups focused on applying game concepts, such as reputation systems, rewards, persistence, deep engagement, immersion and social interaction.

During a panel at PC Forum, WOW wizard Helen Cheng said that many players spend more time playing the game than working at their regular jobs. Cheng is also part of a startup, Seriosity, which plans to apply the game design to solving what she called "generally boring business tasks" and pain points in the enterprise. The 15-person company is in stealth mode, and co-founded by Byron Reeves, a Stanford University communications professor.

"We are trying to use the metaphors inside the game and mapping them to information tasks done outside the game," Cheng said. "There is more emotion and engagement in the game. We are figuring out how to bring more emotion to software, so users are compelled to use it."

Intel, for example, has a large percentage of virtual workers. Seriosity is talking with Intel about applying the lessons from online gaming to improving how hundreds of remote team members can collaborate effectively on projects that require lengthy engagement. "A [WOW] raid can take two to eight hours," Cheng said. WOW players work together to go on quests and raids to increase their levels (standing in the game). Players can be ostracized for behaving badly. Players who farm 'gold' (WOW currency) and resell it on eBay are not highly regarded, Cheng said. When asked what about Seriosity's goal, Cheng said it was to make work "fun."

Tech investor Joi Ito (read his post here) is also a WOW adherent, and runs a WOW guild that includes several tech executives and VCs. In his experience, WoW can provide lessons on working together and managing teams through difficult 'quests.'  

Soon, your WOW level may get you the job...

Topic: Intel

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  • Models and WoW

    The pseudo-science of economics and its mathematical models of markets and economies could learn a lot from WoW. Due to the impossibility of mirroring reality, economists make all sorts of handy assumptions about blocks of consumers, market forces etc and spend most of their time expaining things in hindsight.

    WoW has around 6 million subscribers and at least 10,000 people per server (could be wrong here but that's my impression). It also has a functioning economy with goods production, person to person trading and auction houses. Here's a unique opportunity to actually alter the levers of an economy and see how it reacts. Nor do we have to lump people into groups, every transaction can be monitored and if necessary people can be questioned about individual transactions. Sure the economy is moderately simple, but it does give an opportunity to test basic economic ideas with real people.

    Marketers might be interested in how word of mouth functions within such as virtual world and psychologists and sociologists would have a field day.

    Remember WoW is so successful because it's accessible to a wide range of players (not just your overweight nerds rolling dice in someone's lounge room) and it provides a virtual world. Of course in this world you progress according to the work you put in and your intelligence and skills (unlike the real world) so no wonder it's popular.

    As to getting ahead with your WoW rank in the real world. Much the same applies in Switzerland but in this case it refers to your military rank (a few years in military training are compulsory), so who knows - the skills of organisation, teamwork and leadership are definitely a requirement for WoW and they may be useful in the real world. As another aside, WoW gold trades at about US$10-15 for 100 gold in the real world and there are also sales of inworld items and paying people to play the game for you.

    Popular persistent world MMORPGs offer a wealth of information for researchers in all fields.
    TonyMcS
  • WoW as Golf

    LOL - Noooo way!

    But if it does - I do have a level 60 gnome warrior ;)

    He doesn't have any epic gear tho :(
    CWButler
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