Teamwork in the Game World and Business World

The gamer's computers are typically more expensive than business computers these days. I am not quite sure when the switch happened but it used be the other way. Likewise, I think gamers are more efficient at working together than their business world counterparts.

In World of Warcraft, reaching level 60 seems like the finishing line until you've reached it. Not even close. A whole new world of end-game instances (dungeon of sort) opens up when you get to level 55 or so. While it is possible to become level 60 without ever grouping with other players (known as soloing), end-game instances require 5 to 40 players to work together.

What startled me the most was the huge difference quality of teamwork makes in the game world. For example, Zul'Gurub is an instance designed to be raided by a 20-man group. With solid teamwork, it can be cleared by 10 man in an hour without wiping (every man killed). With bad teamwork, full 20-man group might end up spending 10 hours in there, wiping at every boss.

A good teamwork requires many ingredients such as experience, focus, and awareness. Good tools can augment and amplify teamwork. TeamSpeak, for example, promotes focus and enhances awareness by eliminating the need to type. Best form of teamwork requires no communication at all because everyone knows what needs to be done and in what order. But often a team has to improvise. At such times the leader can bark out short abbreviated orders between mob clusters, keeping the team moving fluidly with only occasional rests. That is, if every member of the team is using TeamSpeak or another tool like it.

As a consultant, I've worked at large number of companies and witnessed wide variety and quality of teamworks. At best, I've seen plenty of bad and ugly teamworks. I've seen occational good teamwork but, all too frequently, it lasts only a short while because teamwork is often brittle to change. I've never seen the kind of teamwork in the business world that I've seen in the game world. Even worse, I've never seen in the business world the kind of effort gamers make to improve teamwork.

What I have seen glimpse of in the game world is the next generation of groupware. IMHO, the key difference between today's groupware and what I envision is the intimacy. Group members don't just separately and occasionally exchange emails and chat over IM. They are in full contact all the time and each of them are fully aware of what others are doing at all times.

Powerful and exhilarating. Perhaps, even scary.

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