Why Gamers Make Great Business Owners

If you love video games, you might be honing skills you need as an entrepreneur.
Why gamers make great business owners.
From strategic thinking to the abillity to lead a team, gaming builds skills that are essential to running a business. (Photo: ESB Professional/Shutterstock)

Sitting in front of the TV for hours on end hacking away at zombies or building an army of alien invaders may not turn your brain to mush like your parents warned. In fact, mounting evidence suggests playing video games actually helps develop some of the skills needed to successfully manage a business.

With 63 percent of U.S. households reportedly containing at least one person who plays video games three hours or more per week, that’s great news for the business community.


“Mainly these games will teach you the ideas of resource allocation and the ability to turn one form of resource into something that is then more valuable towards the end goal.” -Andrew Greenberg (Photo: Andrew Greenberg)

According to the authors of a 2014 article in the journal American Psychologist, “Contrary to conventional beliefs that playing video games is intellectually lazy and sedating, it turns out that playing these games promotes a wide range of cognitive skills.”

Some research, such as this study, suggests playing video games helps people make faster but still-accurate decisions.

NCR Silver asked Andrew Greenberg of the Georgia Game Developers Association to share a few ways video games prep people to win in business.


Greenberg said for years the military has been using video games for training exercises, but it also uses gaming as a recruitment tool for locating talent. Why? It has discovered that guild leaders of massively multiplayer online games — or MMOs — “typically have the skill sets that they’re looking for in non-commissioned officers and in full officers.”

Guild leaders, he said, are obviously skilled at strategy, “but really the things that the military is interested in are the same things business leaders want,” such as the ability to inspire those who work under you, coordinate a group effort, communicate with others and lead a team toward a common goal.

Related: What Your Myers-Briggs Type Says about Your Leadership Style


Most multiplayer games are designed to require teamwork, said Greenberg. “One of the things we find in cooperative gameplay is, while it allows each individual player to shine, players learn to put their own egos behind the group’s success.”

“There will be no individual victories if the team doesn’t win, so they all must work together as a collective.”



Gamers spend time viewing the world through another person’s eyes, and this can often help build empathy. (Photo: WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock)

Though yes, many video games are violent, some games can build empathy by allowing players to experience a situation through another person’s eyes.

Greenberg, who has taught a number of game design classes, said he uses the game “Darfur is Dying” as an example narrative that develops empathy in the player. The game provides a glimpse of the experiences of refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan, who must keep their refugee camp functioning in the face of militia attacks.

“You have to hide as in a classic sneak game and avoid military style Jeeps coming at you,” he said. “It is the experiential nature of play that makes it this work. You can read about it and hear about it, but when you take on that role of the child and experience what they are doing, it has that much more emotional resonance.”

In classrooms mostly full of males in their late teens and early 20s, Greenberg noted, “I never encountered players who are not emotionally impacted by the game.”


Staying fully immersed in a game can develop the ability to focus.

“Focus, like any other skill, needs to be developed. It develops at first in those activities which we find most meaningful. In this case, games,” said Greenberg. “The more that people have the chance to focus, especially on achieving outcomes and overcoming obstacles, the more that can apply to their day-to-day lives.”

Related: How to Bounce Back When Business Goes Bad

Project management

Many strategy games require the player to manage very complex projects, such as building a functioning empire or planning a city.

“Mainly these games will teach you the ideas of resource allocation and the ability to turn one form of resource into something that is then more valuable towards the end goal,” he said.

“Games are a great way to learn about the triangle of money, quality and time.”-Andrew Greenberg

Consider this business adage: if something is cheap and fast it won’t be good. If something is good and quick, it won’t be cheap.

“You get this in games. If you are going to build up to the really powerful units, it’s not going to be cheap. It’s not going to be quick. If you are going to try ‘Zerg Rush’ you are not sending the best units,” explained Greenberg, referencing the popular real-time strategy game StarCraft II.

“Games are very much built around this, and it’s the foundation of business. I think gamers come into it, having experienced it and understanding it far better than most other people.”

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