Ten Skill-Building Things I Learned from World of Warcraft

“All work and no play doesn’t just make Jill and Jack dull, it kills the potential of discovery, mastery, and openness to change and flexibility and it hinders in innovation and invention.

Jolie Godfrey

The gift of childhood

When we were children, we had no idea what we were good at. We just had an endless curiosity with the big question of “Why?”

We used games and playtime to ignite our creativity, spinning endless worlds, and countless possibilities.

As we tried new things, we found what we liked and didn’t like. What we were good at and what we weren’t. And then there were the things that took a lot of work to get good at, but it ignited something in us.


As adults, we get this notion that we can no longer play and experience new ways to be creative or expand our skills.

There are these social norms we hold to that shutdown pathways and options to try new things or forge new skills.

Learnings from Online Gaming

So this month, here is what I learned from my husband’s online gaming and how gamification can help the business world unlock countless skills and talents of its most important asset, its people.

My husband is an online gamer, World of Warcraft, and others that I can’t remember at this sitting. I was a harsh critic. Why would he want to sit in front of his computer and play this with people he only new online? What a waste of precious time.

The Ten

Being curious though, and wanting to understand his view, here is what I learned through observing him play:

  1. Collaboration: It takes a community of people from all walks of life to bring their skills and talents together to achieve their objective.
  2. Skill building: Each player has a core set of skills with their character that they have spent hours honing.
  3. Leadership: each mission has different leaders based on the objective. The team does best with self-empowerment.
  4. Encouragement: the dialogue in the team was positive, encouraging, and motivating, even when they didn’t win that battle.
  5. Resiliency: with a loss, they quickly regrouped and went back to planning using the lessons they learned.
  6. Feedback: part of the debrief was providing constructive feedback – “you did great X, next time, watch your flank and B help X on that flank with your tank.”
  7. Strategy and planning: once the mission was set, strategy and planning were shared by the group. All offered feedback and ideas. The team leader of the mission took in the input, and then a mission plan was set.
  8. Inclusion: the group was all ages, from around the world, and was the most inclusive cohesive team I had ever observed.
  9. Sense of belonging: the members were part of a guild. They had to be vetted to get in and were all proud to be part of the group.
  10. Purpose, mastery, autonomy: I saw Dan Pinks book Drive play out. They all had a purpose, mastery, and while in the game, enough autonomy with their characters to bring their best to the forefront.

I have reflected on the above numerous times. I learned a great deal from observing these raids. The friendships even transcended virtual, and we met many of the members over the years. They are all awesome people.

My husband not only continued to hone his existing skills, he learned new ones, like teaching and communicating in a more simplified (unscientific) way!

Final thoughts:

I have seen not only WOW in play but also gamification in the workplace. It helps forge teams, expand skills, and allows creativity to come to the forefront. It breaks down the stodgy barriers of adulting and brings in a vibrant color scheme of ideas.

Strive to bring fun to your day, learn new things, and remember to be a kid in how you experience the world while you shine brightly!

This was originally written for BJD Leadership Training & Team Development. October 2020. Views my own.

Follow me on:

Twitter: @SamanthaJohnson

LinkedIn: LinkedIn/in/samanthab2

Facebook: @loudlyImperfect

Published by Samantha

I am a fierce advocate for women, and men, especially in business. I want you bright wonderfully talented people to find your voice, be confident and change the system from within.

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