Yes I’m a geek. I play role-play games and run them for a local student society, I play war games, I have even been know to attend certain LARPs. So why I am bringing this up? Recently I have noticed that the skills required in software development among other jobs are also found in many different hobbies and can be developed by either. So being a geek I thought I would list how skills used in role-play games can prove useful at at work and vice versa. So what do role-play games have in common with software development?
Well for starters it encourages team work, this will be obvious to most who play these games. For those who have not experienced role-play games before I’ll explain as best I can.
You are part of a group trying to tell a story together. One of your number describes a world, the land and the people. The rest of you fill in the gaps, and to a certain extent you change the world, working together to make a good story that hopefully the group can enjoy.
Now lets see if we can make that sound as a useful skill for software development.
You are part of a company trying to write some software. One of your number describes a specification, the restrictions and the required functionality. The rest of you writes the code, and to a certain extent you change the specification, working together to make a good piece of software that hopefully the company can sell.
Now this is an over simplification of software development, but my earlier point stands. Role-play games encourage team work. If you are in a group that doesn’t work well together the story soon grinds to a halt and nothing works. Role-play games, football, rugby, in fact almost all team sports, software development, they can all help maintain and improve team work.
Communication of ideas
More important than general communication, role-play games can help with the clear and concise communication of ideas and concepts. Often, during a game, you will find yourself having to describe things without the ability to physically show the group what you mean. This can also be the case when trying to describe the in workings of some functionality or algorithm you have developed. Being able to describe a thought or idea you have in mind without confusion or giving the wrong impression. This is something that can prove very useful and save time by ensuring miscommunication does not take place.
Time management can also be improved with these games. When running a game I have a plot and a time limit, usually the number of weeks between the start of a term and the end. I need to ensure the group make it from the start of the story to the end of the story without over running. Learning how to keep track of the time remaining, learning when one area or a story is lagging and needs more focus or if another area is further ahead than need be and can be put aside whilst other areas catch up. It is basic but combine the skill with the knowledge of your development cycle and the skill is easily interchangeable.
So, do you have any hobbies that have taught you skills that prove useful at work?