7 Video Games to Help Hone Entrepreneurial Skills

Photo credit: Pawel Kadysz

Video games can be time-wasters, a way to wind down at the end of the day, a profession, or an art form depending on who you talk to. The brilliance of the modern state of gaming is that it offers experiences that cater to almost every conceivable demographic of player. This includes entrepreneurs and managers.

While obviously not a target demographic for game developers, entrepreneurs can find a lot of skills and problem solving methods they use represented in video games. These examples show just how diverse the market is, and the many ways gaming can be used to train your brain.

Game Dev Story

This PC indie game turned mobile app was the springboard for developer Kairosoft. The low-key management sim puts you in the shoes of a developer in a small video game studio, making products and rising to fame. Game Dev Story is all about managing your resources to make a product the audience wants. It reminds you that every project goes through  many complex stages. For example, it’s up to you to figure out ways to improve when a launch goes wrong. These are important lessons to learn for any entrepreneur, especially one starting a game or app development company.

Mount & Blade

Mount & Blade is a slightly obscure, slightly medieval PC hardcore action rpg. The core is a realistic world, where you can join whichever faction you want, and achieve renown and property -- which in turn creates income -- in any way you see fit. Just like starting a new company, the player is taught  many approaches to making profit in Mount & Blade.

Reigns

This iOS game from a couple years ago is pretty genius. Players take on the role of a medieval king, and the Tinder-like swipe based interface is how they make decisions. You must balance four meters: church, people, army, and money. Like the experience of being an entrepreneur or small business owner, you must balance all your resources in order to survive. Reigns also caters to the fear that inevitably, no matter how long your game goes, you are destined to either fail, or if you do succeed eventually have to hand off your baby to another team.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Enemy Within

The first modern XCOM game and its dlc is one of the best turn-based tactical RPGs on the market. Don’t let the hokey sci-fi aesthetic fool you, this game does not mess around. XCOM is a game about managing your squad of commandos, choosing which roles to put people in, and making necessary sacrifices for the greater good. You may not want to get attached, but XCOM will teach you to care about your employees on both a personal and professional level.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The latest entry in one of Nintendo’s most successful franchises is one of the greatest games ever made. What Breath of the Wild can do for entrepreneurs is present you with a problem and let you go about solving it in any way you see fit. Literally every scenario in Breath of the Wild can be solved in one of a dozen ways. It is a game where, like in real life, you have a set of existing skills, but you also learn when it's time to tackle a problem and when you need to wait until you have more experience to figure it out.

The Witness

Entrepreneurs need to be able to solve all kinds of creative problems. This type of thinking is often aided by puzzle games. The Witness epitomizes the best of this type of creativity. The Witness starts you off with basic line puzzles, but quickly expands to show you the world around you is the true puzzle. Entrepreneurs must be able to see the bigger picture using language they recognize and the skills they have built up.  

Spelunky

Spelunky is not always going to love you. You will fail at Spelunky - the dungeon diving adventure from Mossmouth - and you won’t be able to try the exact same way. That’s the beauty of the punishing roguelike that is already being considered a classic: every run is random. You don’t learn patterns. You can’t tackle it with brute force. You need a mix of talent, focus, and dumb luck. Every attempt you take is destined to fail, but when you succeed the reward is extremely gratifying.

Bryn Gelbart writes about tech and apps for the Fueled blog. He is interested in gaming culture and leftist agendas.