This Insights article was contributed by William Mansfield, SVP of Product Innovation & Technology for Suzy, NYC and the founder of the local startup Social Haven.
We play a game in our family that no one has never heard of. Which makes complete sense considering the fact that we invented the game ourselves. Not to mention that the game doesn’t have a name and only a handful of people outside of our family have actually seen it. At home, we simply call it the ‘Question Game’.
To understand the Question Game, one must first understand a bit about video games. Let us presume that video games are created for one of only three reasons: 1) Profit. 2) Entertainment. 3) Teaching. Given those three categories, everyone can go to their library of games and have no problem determining which bucket each game belongs in. There may be an edge case that warrants a bit of pondering, but ultimately the answer will materialize.
The Question Game would clearly fall into the teaching bucket, though it does allow for entertainment. While the most popular games (Fortnite, Minecraft, GTA, etc..) are designed for the profit bucket and ensure entertainment. See the difference there? One allows entertainment while the other ensures it.
The Question Game was not designed to be a top contender. It is a simple game to teach an abstract concept: “Not every question has a single answer.” The rules of the game are simple. Player A comes up with a single word or phrase, Player B devises a question whose answer is the word or phrase provided. Player A: Blue. Player B: What color is the sky?. There is no wrong question, so long as the answer fits. After a few rounds of playing the game, the players realize that the concept of ‘right’ is not as rigid as it once seemed.
Are you ready to play?
Answer: Video Games.
Question: Where is the best place to study strategy and tactics?
That’s the beauty of the Question Game. When you go in reverse, you see things you would have never seen when going forward. You don’t realize that video games are more than just entertainment; they can actually teach you things. They can teach you how to think strategically, how to think tactically and how to combine them correctly.
Think back on your college years. Can you remember the class that taught you the difference between a strategy and a tactic? Can you remember any assignments designed to reinforce their differences? It is likely that the closest training you’ve had is in the context of a single field of study: managing fires, playing chess, designing a marketing campaign.
In video games, you can be taught tactics and strategy in multiple combinations. Some games are purely tactical, some are purely strategic, however most games have a combination of both. The best games synthesize scenarios that highlight when a strategic adjustment is mistakenly made because of a tactical blunder. Something that most people don’t even understand, much less have the ability to recognize.
The next time your Chief People Officer talks about culture and recommends an entertainment area, consider adding a gaming console with one simple restriction: “Only buy tactical and strategic games.”
Don’t read into this the wrong way. Not all games have great lessons. Most are designed for profit and entertainment. Some games, typically turn-based games and real-time-strategy games, provide a wonderful ecosystem for learning. But as the Question Game teaches, this is only one question for the answer.
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie.
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