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Why IBM hires World of Warcraft gamers – Joe Pine Video Interview

Written by: on  November 25, 2011

Joe PineJoe Pine coined The Experience Economy over a decade ago to describe our modern economy. We asked Joe to explore with you how bosses could use this concept to create workplace experiences for employees to improve retention and employee satisfaction. Towards the end of our interview we gained insight into why World of Warcraft gamers make ideal candidates for IBM and how virtual reality is going to play a greater role in leading business.

Before we get into the interview let’s look at what The Experience Economy means, directly explained by how coffee goes up in value in this image from BusinessWeek. Then let’s take the model and apply it to a workplace situation:

Joe Pine's Experience EconomyIf the experience economy is all about building a holistic experience for a client to create more value, thus raising income and strength of relationship, are there similarities applicable to workplaces? I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference between customer and client and what it takes to treat an employee/freelancer/subcontractee as a client for long term business.


1. a person who purchases goods or services from another…


1. a person or group that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, recruiter, advertising agency, architect, etc.”

If an employee is a customer then they are there to get the commodity (paycheck) and that’s all they really care about. However, if the boss treats an employee as a client, caring about their experience at work, a relationship grows that revolves around far more than just money.

So let’s tuck in, Kursty Groves interviews Joe Pine on video about his new book Infinite Possibility to ask how in we can develop experiences both online and offline for our employees, thus becoming indispensable to their lifestyles:

Question: Would you consider playing World of Warcraft a positive leadership skill to list on a CV?

Check this PDF to see what IBM has to say about the leadership skills that video games like World of Warcraft develop. The quote that stands out to me is:

Video Games promote Leadership Skills


UPDATE (Nov 28th): The Reddit World of Warcraft discussed this article over the weekend and left 47 comments on what they think of the leadership skills behind the game play. Link to the discussion here.

Some comments made that stood out:


That doesn’t surprise me, IBM has a real hard on for virtual communications. They make their employees use 2nd life for some of their conferences.


My friend cited his gold leadership in his interview with IBM. Using some making buzzwords such as “team member” or “client” and steering away from any gaming specific terms, he landed the job with ease and worked there for almost 4 years.


I think running a guild in WoW will give you way more experience in financing than anything the average business student does, though.

Calculating how much money your next tequilla sunrise costs and how much money you will have left at the end of the evening doesn’t compare to managing 30+ members equipment costs every second day and distributing loot and raid participation fairly.

Actually, I think after running a top 3 WoW guild on your server you have way more HR managing abilities than the HR managers assessing your resume… I’m very serious here, especially when comparing guild management to what a horrible job the HR managers at my company are doing.


True leadership comes from learning to herd 24 mouthbreathing retards through complicated maneuvers using only a completely arbitrary, meaningless reward system and your tone of voice.


Very true, especially a 25 man guild. The real success of the guild is down to how it is run and it is anything but easy.

  • Recruitment (marketing!)
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Strategy
  • Motivation



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