As I prepare to leave my workplace, so I find myself going through the files on my work computer. Some I place on our document management system so that those that come after me will have some idea of the work that I have done. Others I delete as nothing more than working papers. Then there are things like that I found today: a speech.
For a short while I belonged to the work Toast Masters group. It was a great little group. We had regular sessions about once a month (Sharmaine – if you are out there reading this and I am wrong, then please correct me). Anyway, I gave a speech on the subject “How computer games improved my team work.”
I thought perhaps that I shall share this with you all :)
I am here to tell you how computer games improved my team work. But first I must bring you into my world of games. Sharmaine, I know you enjoy reading so you should be able to immerse yourself in this. And Jonathan, this is familiar territory for you. I want you all to imagine yourselves seated before a computer screen. As you stare into that screen you find yourself staring out the eyes of some other person, some other person you can control via the keyboard and mouse. This first person perspective is why they are called first person shooters. We’ll get to the shooting part soon.
Before you is a landscape. We call that landscape a map. Depending upon the game it could be a grimy urban landscape or a dense rainforest or even the inside of some office building like the one we are currently in. The very place in the map where you now find yourself is called the spawnpoint and around you are your team mates. Some of these you may recognise from other encounters and they may recognise you. Me – I am SoulThief.
Now the mode of computer games I tend to play are Capture the Flag, like the old children’s game. Each team has a flag in their base and they must protect it while simultaneously trying to pluck their opponents flag from its home and steal away back to our flag. Succeeding is like a try in rugby league.
The first point about team work that these computer games taught me was “Understand the role you play”. In most games involving a capture the flag mode you can choose different roles. A good team is made up of many people playing different roles. You can be the heavily armoured, machine gun toting, slow moving type. Great in a melee, perhaps defending the flag, but a large part of these games is the chase where they are useless. Perhaps you want to play the lightly armed and armoured scout type role. Wonderful for sneaking in, stealing the flag and running back to base, but one of two shots and you are history and back at the spawnpoint. Then to keep things interesting are snipers who kill from a distance, keeping opponents away from the flag and trying to contain them while also providing covering fire for our own people. And then the medic, who heals people before they die, because when people die and return to the spawnpoint momentum will be lost.
Trying to play a part in the competition not suited to your role does not work. The team suffers. A light weight playing defence may sometimes be useful, but the team’s capacity to capture flags is lowered. This is like real life. A manager doing junior work is a poor use of resources. You must understand the role you play and fulfil it.
To really do this you must trust your team to do their part. If you are the light weight flag stealer then you must trust the snipers to cover you and the medics to keep you alive once you escape with the flag. Likewise, a heavy will rarely steal a flag, they need the fast moving lightweights to do their job. You must do your job the best you can, and you can only do that by trusting the others to do theirs. Interfere and the team suffers. And, once again, this is true in real life.
Finally communicate, communicate, communicate. Unless I am playing in an organised game ladder with a fixed team, the chances are that every time I go online I will be playing with a slightly different combination of players on my side. Think about this: all your team fellows are sitting behind computers trying to fulfil their roles and trusting you to do yours. But teamwork is about working together towards a communal goal.