Playing Games – A Vital Tool for Business Managers

These days, it seems that everyone is playing games. Over the past 12 months, the gaming sector has become as important a component of the overall leisure industry as movies, TV or music, and its significance is only rising. But there is more to gaming than a stress-busting distraction at the end of a busy day. The principles that underlie games can also be applied to the business world and help you to emerge a winner where it really matters.

What’s your game?

Some of these principles are plain to see, and there are obvious correlations between certain types of games and business activities. A trader buying and selling on the stock market will often be compared with a gambler deciding how much to bet and whether to hit or stand. Likewise anyone working in local government will see immediate parallels with Sim City style games. 

More broadly, though, whatever the nature of the game or the business, it will have certain elements, such as a set of basic rules to follow, competitors, goals, strategies and elements of chance. 

Risk and return

From product launches to business expansion to recruitment, managers constantly need to be weighing up risk and return. The Project Management Institute published a paper in 2012 that advocated certain team-based games that hone risk management skills. These might not be so applicable in the current climate of social distancing, but as ever, cyberspace has a solution.

The games on offer at the various sites listed on guides like provide the full gamut of risk experiences. Games like baccarat require low wagers and offer regular payouts. Play for a couple of hours, and on a good night, you might end up $40 wealthier – on the other hand you could be $20 down.

At the other end of the scale, there are jackpot slot games where you must bet the maximum amount to stand a chance of a payout that could run into the millions. However, it is like the Lotto in that the vast majority of players will walk away disappointed. Play a game like that for two hours and the losses can be significant. 

Strategic thinking

The game of chess is open to all sorts of analogies. A war between two tribes? The class system in society? Or perhaps the different functions and departments in a typical business, where everyone has his own role and specific skills. Overthinking this can be dangerous, as the big difference between a chess board and business is that in chess you can see the entire universe in which the game operates and you have as clear a view of your competitor’s position as you do of your own. 

Clearly that’s not the case in real life, where there are even more variables to consider than on a chess board, and a whole lot of extra unknowns. Nevertheless, playing chess certainly has value in improving a manager’s strategic thinking. The same can also be applied to more modern strategy games like League of Legends or Starcraft.