I’m reminded of Shogun 2: Total War a lot, one of the last strategy games I’ve played.
Shogun 2: Total War
In Shogun 2, you’re experiencing what its like to lead a Japanese clan into dominion over Japan during the Sengoku period (15th-16th century Japan). One of the aspects of this is a requirement to wage battle in real-time, as you command your troops into combat and find ways to counteract your opponent’s moves.
One of the main pieces of your army is the general, who if you lose during combat will likely cost you the battle. Another important aspect of the general is in improving morale. Keeping him close to your lower morale Ashigaru units improves morale, and deters them from wavering and scattering when faced with losses. I find this to be true at work as well.
In this case, I am the general (a hefty promotion, I know). I notice that when I leave the construction site to do some office work, morale slips. When I return, I’m very suspicious of the multiple whistles I hear, most likely a signal from those ‘on watch’ signaling my return and a cue to keep working. Lately I’ve been more actively surveying different groups to make sure my presence is felt, and I notice it does make a difference. There are certain people I know I need to keep an eye on, and also certain jobs can be done with smaller teams, so I micro manage certain individuals on different tasks. The other day I had 21 people doing 7 different tasks.
Another game I’m reminded of is Age of Mythology (similiar to the Age of Empires franchise).
In Age of Mythology you have to manage your economy whilst managing battling your opponent. Sometimes when a task gets completed by villagers they become ‘idle’, and because your focus is elsewhere, you forget to re-task them on something else. The ‘idle villager’ problem is something I’m experiencing here as well. To solve this, its important to make a round with all the different teams to check progress, and to give follow up instructions so tasks are queued. Even simply observing some teams and being present makes a difference. Kind of like the pharaoh’s ’empower’ ability in Age of Mythology (from general to pharaoh! Getting really generous with these promotions…).
The whole thing with the military ranking system I use for my workers also didn’t come out of nowhere… I’ve played an extensive amount of Brothers in Arms and other squad based shooters like Full Spectrum Warrior, Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon to know how squads should function, and recognize the responsibility that different ranks bestow.
Understanding the different leadership at every level is useful for coordination.
Team based tasks are also more easier to manage even though breaching a door with explosives and flash bangs is a bit different to the work I’m doing here.
The underlying theme is that games, especially (real-time) strategy games, have helped me into a mindset of coordination and management in ways I couldn’t have otherwise learnt. The only difference is that clicking and dragging in real life works a little different.
Simulations that put you in leadership and command positions also help craft responsibility for real roles. I remember caring about the life of every pixel soldier in Command and Conquer and often refusing to complete a mission if any of my mech pilots died in Mech Commander.