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Survival Games, MMOs and a Future of Hybrid Work


The future of work is hybrid work: flexible working where an employee splits their time between the workplace and working remotely.

Right now, companies around the world are experimenting with different types of hybrid set-ups, to see what suits their organisation best.

In her recent book on the ‘Remote Work Revolution’, Harvard Business School’s Tsedal Neeley places great emphasis on the importance of trust in an age of “virtual, distributed, and global work”.

How can you trust colleagues you barely see in person? How can you be personable, ‘real’ and have a warm social presence when working remotely? How can the larger-than-life presence of an office leader “manifest through a computer screen?”

Game Academy co-founder and data scientist Andrey Chernyavskiy believes that gamers and gaming will be a key source of talent in this hybrid future.

“Remote trust and remote communication is familiar to gamers”, says Andrey. “When you play a hard game like Valheim, trust is extremely important. You really need teamwork and every mistake that you or your partner make will kill you both.”

In her book, Neeley draws attention to different kinds of trust that need to be considered in any hybrid work ‘action plan’. “The type of trust — and how much — varies based on a remote team’s unique situation,” she writes. “And there are several key concepts: cognitive passable trust, cognitive swift trust, emotional trust, direct knowledge and reflected knowledge.”

Andrey thinks emotional trust is critical to the experience of playing games. “People who play World of Warcraft, they can kill bosses for hours and hours but it depends on twenty people doing their roles. You need to feel safe. This is emotional trust. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it features so highly in games because games are about emotions.”

Survival games and MMOs are genres that Andrey believes emphasise trust. “All types of trust can be improved in games,” says Andrey. “But you do need to take care. Many players online choose characters different to themselves and hide their identities. This limits trust.”

Tsedal Neeley, ‘Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere’ (Harper Business, 2021)

Credit image: Destructoid — World bosses are now live in World of Warcraft Shadowlands

Tags: Remote Work Survival Games MMO Trust Business Practice