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Leadership in Gaming. Eshan Mathur Victor LaCour CSCI-180. Thesis.

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Leadership in gaming l.jpg

Leadership in Gaming

Eshan Mathur

Victor LaCour


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  • Leadership is an important quality in both in real world situations and in gamers who take their game experience seriously and can be developed effectively through competitive group experiences in player versus environment and player versus player gameplay.

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Leaders in Games Are

  • Essential to cohesiveness and effectiveness of team

  • Focus team energy

  • Unite players in common purpose

  • No popularity factor

    • Anonymity

    • Required when first starting a team

    • Chosen by previous leaders

  • Huge timesink!

    • Multiplies effort required to excel

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Becoming a Leader in Games

  • Often have multiple years of experience

    • Experience and skill are valuable

  • Seeing leadership fail or wanting to improve the experience and achieve higher goals

  • Many hopefuls, few successes

  • Loyalty towards team/group

    • Selection most often results from leadership ability, not player skill

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Styles of Leadership

  • 3 widely recognized leadership styles exist within gaming as well

  • Autocratic – tell people what to do

    • Multiple leaders within a team, at least one is the playcaller / quarterback / “strat” caller / raid leader

  • Participative - consultative

    • Less during gameplay, more during preparation

  • Delegative – assuming players are already competent

    • Leader is overwhelmed with responsibilities

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PvP vs PvE

  • Competitive play exists in both PvE and PvP gameplay

  • Player vs. Player encompasses most game genres

    • Leadership is ill-defined and unstructured in casual PvP

    • In competitive PvP, best leaders, not best players

    • RTS games almost always played 1v1, rare to see leadership

  • Player vs. Environment

    • Structured play, specific strats

    • Leadership structure exists from minor casual play up

    • In competitive PvE, leadership is usually broken up into parts

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Functions of Leadership

  • Organizing Activities and Management

  • Dealing with Other Groups

  • Teaching and Coaching Subordinates

  • Motivating Others

  • Environmental Monitoring

  • Intervening Actively in Group’s Work

  • Most functions are at least slightly different in PvP and PvE situations.

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Organizing Activies and Management

  • Group level

    • Not much to do with the game

    • Managing people

  • Competitive PvP

    • Typically tournament style

    • Teams compete for winnings

    • Gaming syndicates

      • Pay salaries

      • Secure corporate sponsorship funds

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Organizing Activies and Management

  • On professional PvP teams

    • Managers are hired to deal with day to day organization

      • Deal with tournament officials

      • Relationship from team to syndicate

      • Deals with problems on the team

      • Responsible for trading players

      • Can be compared to a general manager in pro sports

      • Do not lead the team but provide executive feel

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Organizing Activies and Management

  • On professional PvP teams

    • Team Leader / Captain

      • Must be familiar with politics of tournaments

      • Liaison with syndicate and manager to represent team

    • Commercialization of competitive gaming

      • Much greater strain on team leaders

      • But are where they want to be

      • Benefits from sponsorship and syndicate ownership

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Organizing Activities and Management

  • In PvE

    • Casual groups require good management just as much as competitive groups

    • Groups are very large.

      • Often structured within the game.

    • PvE group leaders

      • must deal with large number of interactions

        • Not as much of an issue with PvP because team size differs

      • Address issues of loot possession

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Organizing Activities and Management

  • In both PvP and PvE

    • Leaders must resolve individual and subgroup disputes

    • Manage and initiate healthy recruitment

    • Maintain and enforce

      • Behavioral and game-based rules

    • Manage group assets

      • Both real world and in-game

      • Ensure effective usage

      • Poor management of assets can result in reduced performance

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Organizing Activities and Management

  • Like any team sport, leaders must sacrifice

    • Leaders of competitive teams never hesistate to make right decision

    • Evolution of esports has resulted in professionalism

    • Even in casual play, leaders look to the team as a whole

  • Administrative functions

    • Finding practice times that work for the team

    • Enforcing attendance

    • Punishment and reward

    • Facilitating team’s adjustment to changes in the game

  • Responsible for every problem that the team runs into

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Organizing Activities and Management

  • Drama is number one reason for failure

  • No tolerance policy on negative interaction

  • Recruit people focused on the goal

  • Growing expectation for professionalism

    As competition grows, leaders must expect more and more from players to keep the team viable and running smoothly

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Dealing with Other Groups

  • A.K.A. Politics.

  • Must know how to deal with groups

    • Competing teams

    • Other leaders

    • Referees (in competitive PvP)

    • Tournament officials

    • Syndicates

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Dealing with Other Groups

  • Poaching” is a problem all teams experience

  • Leaders must keep players loyal

  • Must prevent larger and better teams from poaching skilled players

  • In PvE more than PvP, in game politics are crucial

  • Leaders must know how to handle

    • Mergers

    • Splits due to disagreement

    • Coordinated efforts with other groups/teams

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Dealing with Other Groups

  • Mergers are known to have high rate of failure

    • Difficult to transfer power and loyalties in competitive teams

  • Merging is often used as a last ditch method

  • Splits

    • Require immense strength of leadership to overcome

    • Recruitment acceleration

    • Reassigning of roles

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Teaching and Coaching Subordinates

  • PvP

    • Teams usually collaborate on strats

      • Leaders are responsible for ensuring strat is understood by everyone and it works well with the team

    • Leaders are responsible for splitting teams into roles/classes

      • Not structured within the game typically, purely functional

      • In RPGs, “crowd control”, “healer”, “tank”, “dps”

      • In FPS PvP, usually based on weapons

        • one excellent player, others fit into roles around him

        • Strategists, snipers, clutch players, experienced players, utility

        • Some players cover multiple roles (play caller is also a sniper, etc)

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Teaching and Coaching Subordinates

  • PvP

    • In some top tier competitive PvP, leaders often operate the team on a need-to-know basis

      • Team does not know what strat is being run, only do what the play caller tells them to do

      • Leader has to be able to spontaneously delegate tasks

        • E.g. Run to location X, wait and pick off enemy

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Teaching and Coaching Subordinates

  • PvE

    • Strats usually researched online beforehand

      • Exception: top tier professional teams going for World Firsts

        • Leadership requirements change; must lead coordinated effort to quickly and efficiently figure out the actions required to take down the boss

        • Has to take in thoughts, ideas, and suggestions and process them quickly. Must determine which pieces of information are valuable in real time while team is racing against the rest of the world

    • Leaders have to conform strategies to work with the group makeup of the team

    • Encounters in PvE are structured – enemies do action A and the team must respond with action B to survive

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Teaching and Coaching Subordinates

  • PvE

    • Leadership responsible for complex strategies

      • Classes are typically intrinsic to the game

      • Every class is given a different role by game designers

      • Leadership must ensure each division of player is comfortable within the overall strategy

    • Unconventional Action

      • Exclusive to the team

      • Odd use of abilities, consumables, power ups, enchantments

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Motivating Others

  • Similar to other sports / companies / teams

  • PvE vs PvP

    • Push the team

    • Control the mood

      • Directly related to willingness to succeed

    • PvE

      • Players often play over the net, not in LAN

      • Feel disconnected at times

      • Players may fake a disconnection from the server

    • PvP

      • LAN play is common at competitive level

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Environmental Monitoring

  • PvE

    • Encounter leaders must constantly observe

      • Smoothness

      • Adherence to strategy

    • Alter strategy spontaneously

    • Reassignment of role

    • Correct players upon mistake

    • In PvE, delegation of role monitoring

      • High level ‘raid leader’

      • Class leaders responsible for class OR

      • Role Leaders (DPS, CC, healers, tanks) OR

      • Sub group by position or strategy

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Environmental Monitoring

  • PvP

    • Teams usually smaller than PvE

    • Requires same type of monitoring as PvE, but on smaller scale

    • No sub leaders

    • Monitor LAN environment

      • Most serious and competitive tournaments conducted LAN style

      • Player behavior and motivation can be controlled/monitored in the real world

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Environmental Monitoring

  • Environmental Monitoring lends itself to motivation

  • Leaders

    • Responsible for flow of energy in team

    • Continually watch team

      • Encourage

      • Direct

      • React

    • Must also play their own game skillfully while monitoring everyone else’s game

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Intervening Actively in the Group's Work

  • Effective monitoring skills are necessary

  • Must be able to respond quickly with solutions

  • PvP & PvE

    • Player Death

      • Drastically changes ability of the team to succeed

      • Changes how each player should be utilized to maximize chance of success

        • Leaders must cope with dynamic restructuring

        • Rethinking of strategies

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Intervening Actively in the Group's Work

  • Unexpected events impossible to predict, require immediate critical thinking

  • Leaders are responsible for determing when to correct mistakes or to alter strategy, or both

  • Outside encounter, leader must intervene and coordinate when out of gameplay initiatives are not going well

  • Must also intervene when subleaders are ineffective

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Future of Leadership in Games?

  • Interviews with Gamers

    • They feel better prepared to lead in real life

  • Game developers

    • Incorporate facets of leadership into game mechanics

    • Incorporate game design that aids leadership in competitive play

  • Almost every facet of leadership represented in games

  • Provides serious opportunity for development

  • Those with leadership ability go farther