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Can Games Groom Great Leaders?

Game theory is a well-known idea in economics â€" economists who have helped devise the strategy won the 2005 Nobel prize. It's also important in actual business, especially for how it approaches negotiations (though gametheory.net features in its lecture notes section alone general strategy, competitive and cooperative strategies, management, and finance, as well as bargaining).

But what about game practice? Can games teach business leadership skills? The folks at CCP, the maker of Eve Online, argue that their game is excellent simulation for running a business in the real world. In their favor, the game is built on the idea of corporations in space, and there are CEOs who run organizations that can employ 3,000 people. Many of those people are specialized, working on mining and other kinds of economic production, trading and management. It also has had corporate espionage, scams and failed IPOs.

The company hired an economist to study the market behavior of the game and help set monetary policy. He told me that he thought the game was a perfect model for testing economic theory. It's also discussing how to use the game to teach business principles with at least one college, though there's no set deal.

Perhaps this comment from a Financial Times article, Gamers Hone Capitalist Skills Online, is most telling: a real-life CEO says that being a successful CEO in the game took up so much of his time he had to quit, for fear of undermining performance in his real job.

Nobody wants their management talent spending all their time in a virtual world. But this game might be a good way to screen management talent, and may have some talent for training. If nothing else, you'll know that players can be dedicated to a company.

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