When I was 13 there was nothing else I wanted for xmas but a Gameboy.
My chances of getting one were almost zero.
Because if I got one, my siblings would want one…and with 6 of us in the household, that just wasn’t going to happen.
But that’s OK.
I had a plan. I would babysit my way towards acquiring one. I was 13 now, old enough to look after other peoples kids for sure. My aunt knew loads of rich people who went to dinner parties…I’d make that money in no time.
And I did.
If I remember rightly the GameBoy was £140
That was exactly 14 evenings of babysitting…and there was nothing quite like the day I went to buy it…I became the owner of a brand new handheld games console which came with just one game…Tetris.
And so my entrepreneurial journey began.
Here are the 7 games I played as a kid and young adult, that really shaped my attitude to business.
Ok so clearly we have to talk about the all-time best strategy game. I think I only owned this one game for my GameBoy for about 6 months before I could afford another game, and I was 100% OK with that. I lovely the simplicity of this block sorting and building game…and I loved that with confidence came increased speed and agility. I could play this for hours….and later went on to have a version on my phone…but far too addictive for me now I have shit to do. Business is all about strategy and making everything fit together nicely…but just like the game you can mess up and rectify everything…just as long as you get your shit together the longer the game goes on.
I remember playing paperboy on our commodore 64 I think. This was a Xmas gift one year when I was around 8 or 9, it was a shared gift and I can remember having to take turns with my siblings. I always wanted to have a paper round but wasn’t allowed. Unlike my brother who had one but hated it. We once convinced a taxi firm to pay us to deliver mini cab cards door to door…we dumped them in a bin and spent the day in the park instead. I remember playing this computer game though and being acutely aware that the paperboy in this game was American and therefore things worked differently there than here. Having a global view and a desire to be productive and earn my own money was the lesson here I think….and can also remember thinking “Why not papergirl?” but this was the 1980s and I hadn’t yet learned about feminism.
We had this on our spectrum zx I think…or maybe it was the commodore 64…I remember though it was riveting, the basic premise to get as many lemmings (these strange and somewhat stupid creatures) from one place to another with the fewest numbers of deaths. They could be given instructions like dig or build or climb, but as I said they were a bit dim so they would happily walk over the edge of a cliff if you weren’t careful. This is very much what I have found people management is like. You have to give people the right tools and take as many people with you, knowing that some won’t make it…even if you try really hard.
I think there is possibly a secondary lesson which is about not following the crowd. People in business often suggest you do stupid and risky things so that they can win their game. Have a brain of your own and use the tools as your disposal rather than relying on theirs.
We all loved Sonic right? We are now in the 1990s and we got a Sega Megadrive for Xmas…again a shared Xmas present. We were now much older and had homework and stuff, so it was mainly weekends we’d get to play…and often in pairs. It was great bonding time. Playing computer games with my siblings taught me teamwork and patience…sonic was a bit of a character wasn’t he…remember if you did nothing with him, he’d stand there tapping his foor and folding his arms. My business message here is slow down a bit from time to time and don’t be a diva. This game was a game of choice…do you go for speed or precision, would it be about the times or the gold rings?
Right. So aged 16 I get my first mobile phone. It was a Motorola flip. The contract signed by my then youth worker. Do you know I still have the very same number…yep I am one of those strange individuals who has had the same mobile number for 25 years.
I’m not sure if that phone had the snake game, I think it came about a year or so later when I upgraded to a Nokia 510…remember those phones…they were like a brick, you could play snake on them all day, and phone your friends for hours at a time (free call time was a blessing back then) and still only need to charge your phone once a week.
Snake was genius. It was simple. It was addictive. Like you knew what you were getting and even when you cracked the game, the excitement of starting over again was never lost. The business lesson here is about simplicity, knowing your strengths and sticking with it.
My Mum stuck with that model of phone for about 20 years…she’s only just upgraded ha ha.
Now, this is where things got interesting. I’d been away at University for 3 years. I didn’t have a computer, so I had to use one in the universities computer room for all my coursework, and of course the early days of the internet.
But once I graduated from my first degree in Performing Arts I decided to do a Masters in Multimedia (mainly because I loved the modules we did that explored technology and filmmaking) It soon became apparent I would need a computer.
But I was broke.
A guy I knew from the pub I was a barmaid in said he would build me a PC for £100, using parts from an old PC someone had given me. It wasn’t really powerful enough for all the film editing and animation stuff I was learning but it was great for wordprocessing…we didn’t have an internet connection at home yet either so no surfing the web.
But I did manage to buy the game Sim City as a treat to myself. When I wasn’t working in the pub or out clubbing, and I wasn’t studying…I would stay in my room strategising about these made-up characters in my made-up life. I’d send them off to read books and get jobs and kiss their neighbours. I loved the control ha ha.
I also found it fun to create drama, to let them burn the house down, or let the dog wee on the carpet. The business lesson here is around creativity I guess..having creative license to explore possible outcomes…in a computer game though you can just start again…in real life the people involved in the game might not be as easy to reset.
In around 2003 I bought my very own computer an apple mac. I had a job now and was bringing in enough to afford a payment plan on the latest mac. It was the one with the big bulbous bottom, the flat screen and the two little speakers.
I used it mainly for surfing the net (we had internet), for doing work stuff occasionally, for writing letters to my uncle who I was a pen pal with, and I had progressed from The Sims to Civilisation.
I had found my spiritual home of computer games.
A simulation game that taught you about history, human behaviour and cause and effect all in one go. I loooooovvveeed this game and lost days to it. In fact I’d often rush home from work (having left the computer running) much to my mums disproval to see what developments had happened.
I would build great empires, where I would preference learning and culture over armies and industry, and I would play around with urban design to make communities thrive…I was also doing this in real life by now working as a community engagement consultant with the masterplanners and architects in the early stages of urban design for what is now the post London 2012 Olympic Park….that I live on the edge of.
Build it and they will come is the message I got from this game, and that with power comes great responsibility. When growing a civilisation or a community every action you take has a reaction, sometimes you have to make difficult decisions about the distribution of resources based on a vision you have for a better world.
Wow, that felt like a wonderful look back down memory lane
What were your favourite computer games as a child, and did they shape your views on business at all, or am I reading far too much into my formative years.
I started thinking about this blog post based on my memory of playing Civilisation and then asking on my Facebook page about other games we grew up with.
I am currently working on plans for a new community of epic proportions to be launched next year. This is a community for pioneers, for change makers, for early adopters. A community for business owners who want more impact and more impact, and are looking for a leader who is going to take them to places they have never been before.
If you’d like to find out more about my Tribe Builder 2020 vision get in touch. You can book a call to discuss whether you think you might make a good citizen in my ecosystem, and you might even be able to help me shape it.
It all starts with a conversation. So don’t be shy. Book a call.