You beheaded all the zombies. You learned how to drive fast and shoot cops and you saved the Last of Us. Now through the medium of games you can learn your ultimate gaol – to be a CEO of a fictional organisation.
Organisational behaviour courses and their books have an image problem: they’re dull. Some of you may have already drifted off at the words “Organisational behaviour.” Dry essays and a list of buzzwords is no substitute for the real thing. Despite massive growth in the popularity of games, and the subsequent gamification of modern culture, management training has been slow to catch up.
You would think that since some of the biggest companies in the world are the creators and sellers of games something appealing to the gamer generation would have appeared by now. Well Planet Jockey has arrived. Planet Jockey is an employee engagement company who specialise in leadership mentoring. They have collaborated with award winning digital agency Cyber-Duck to create what they describe as “A highly addictive leadership strategy game” and it is addictive but is it useful?
The game works like this: You, the player, are the newly appointed CEO of a company, it’s unclear what this company actually does but it’s very FTSE 100 friendly. Product is not relevant here; it’s your managerial skills that matter.
You are presented with a series of typical and realistic problems – how to meet your team for the first time? How to deal with ego in the boardroom? And what do you do about rival companies? The questions are answered with an A or a B or a sliding scale and grow in difficulty as you climb up the corporate ladder.
You are helped along the way by short animated clips of friendly talking stationery (pictured). They tell you in their best doing-a-funny-cartoon-voice why your decisions are wrong or right, and it’s all done calmly and every lose feels fixable. The design is simple and pleasant enough not to grate, although you’ll find you press the back button a lot. Planet Jockey is clearly made by fans of strategy games so it’s laced with the addictive drug of points. The questions are based on your emotional intelligence so it’s an unsettling feeling to become stressed at your lack of empathy. This is not a game for the Lord Sugars of this world.
However, leadership training is always leadership training. The emphasis is more on the edu than the tainment. The buzzwords are restrained but they’re still there. The vagueness of the corporation slowly begins to bore – No, seriously, what do you actually do? – And sometimes you catch yourself thinking ‘If HR send me one more email…’ Then again that’s what a real CEO would think but even zombies would be hard pushed to make this truly fun.
Graeme Swanson is a writer and journalist. Follow him on Twitter @swansonian.