I'm not a big time gamer, but over the years I have enjoyed some of the most marvellous video games. Myst and Riven, Syberia, Spore, BioShock and currently Oblivion. [My character, "Wanderer", is an Elf with spiky pink hair who is working on becoming a Mage, or magician, and prefers to sneak past the bad guys instead of trying to bludgeon them.]
Forget for a moment all the stuff you hear in the news about the violence of video games. There's another side of this story. A side I was thinking about as I started processing the post-holiday e-mail mountain. And I KNOW you feel my pain on that one!
I was wishing that processing mounds of marketing messages delivered by e-mail had the kind of satisfying rewards that achieving the next step in a game mission has. I guess I was wishing life was more like a video game. Then I realized, life sort of IS like a video game -- at least the good ones.
In games, you get more do-overs, but we tend to keep making the same dumb mistakes anyway.
Make a stupid mistake, you have to go back and do it again, but you can try something new. I surprise myself by how often I keep trying a failed strategy before I rethink it. Very similar to the real world, where in business we often just think if we push the strategy harder, it will work.
In games, success comes from effectively utilizing all your tools. We tend to keep using the same tools anyway, instead of exploring new ones.
I'd been wondering what good a calming spell was until I gave it a really good try on an attacking human. I'd been hauling around a mortar and pestle, and did not realize it could be used to create potions!
Again, there are real world parallels, of course. We have software we don't fully utilize, corporate resources we don't fully utilize, and talented people we don't fully utilize.
Playing to your strengths works well if you actually do it.
Magicians only need to know enough weaponry to defend themselves while they build their skills. But weapons quickly become a habit. And if people are charging at you with a mace, it feels like you should respond in a similar way. Sadly, no magician is going to defeat an armor-clad behemoth charging at you with a mace if you rely on your sword skills. You need to be clever. Sneak around. Poison your sword. Use their own force against them to let them charge right off the bridge into the flaming inferno below. Better still, use your magic.
Of course, so much like real life. Except in real life it is often other people telling you to use your sword instead of your brain. It takes many of us decades to understand what our real strengths are and to work only in those areas. The most successful businesses also play to their strengths. This is truly the most important lesson of branding.
In games, you need to customize your approach to the challenge facing you.
Charm and persuade innkeepers. Help farmers who have been turned invisible, and they will do good turns for you, too. Bad guys are going to be bad guys, no matter what you say to them. In real life, of course, success comes from using the right approach for the challenge, whether it is creating new positioning statements or crafting an innovation strategy.
Wishing you a great year ahead -- just remember to use all the things you learned in games in your real world job. And if you find a spell that handles e-mail, do let the rest of us know!