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applying video game boss tips to your own job February 18, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Management, Seen Elsewhere.
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Destructoid.com has a great guide on the video game boss’s guide to success. I thought I would extend some of those tips outward to show how managers can use them in everyday life.

Call upon your creativity when it comes to attack patterns. As much as you may not like to admit it, you know that somewhere within your charred black heart is a sense of creativity. It’s what got you this far, even if you don’t like thinking of it in quite those terms (“insidious plans” is the way you refer to it, I believe). However, all of those innovative juices of yours will be in vain if you don’t take a moment to plan such essential tactics as your plan of attack.

Real-life example: After one month, your employees will have figured out your general schedule. Shake things up by coming in a couple of minutes early, or by moving a meeting from the afternoon to the morning. Also, they’ll know by the first week how you butter them up to get them to take on a crappy task that you don’t feel like doing. Assign it via e-mail so they can’t pull the old “oh, hi Jeff, I’m just working on this other thing here. Want to see my progress so far?”

Consider that the traps in your lair may pose a threat to you as well. Any great villain knows of the legendary Bowser, king of all Koopas, who continues to chase Mario and Peach in every Mario title despite the fact he fell into his own moat of flame in the original Super Mario Bros. Sure, he’s a legend … but a smarter guy might have designed that axe that drops the bridge to be slightly less easy to access, no?

Real-life example: With the exception of people who are really into technology, managers tend to be pretty slow on the uptake when it comes to the proper way to use social networks. If you say “I’m going to a lunch meeting” but you’re really going to have a nooner with your significant other (or, worse, hookup buddy), don’t advertise it on Facebook and don’t post photos. Your employees are watching.

For bosses of unusual size: do not build platforms that allow direct access to your face. Although it seems clear as day to me, bosses of unusually large stature seem unphased by the fact that their greatest strength is also their greatest weakness: when you fall, you fall hard. Of course, planning not to fall at all seems like a fine solution, and while the attitude is there, the follow-through on this plan is sadly lacking.

Real-life example: This one is really more directed toward upper management. Basically, don’t give the peons a chance to get at you. While acting like Caesar moving among the plebes seems to make people think you’re a boss who really cares, you can really screw things up by getting caught up in discussions with the people on the ground. You may feel like you need to justify corporate decisions or empathize with your workers. Well, don’t. Let middle management fall down that rabbit hole.

Don’t situate your lair next to a room full of weapons, health packs and save points. Perhaps under your public mask of eternal evil, you truly believe that a fight should be on equal footing. That’s lovely and sure to earn you the respect of a blushing lass or two, but in all honesty it’s an absolutely terrible quality for a villain to have. After all, don’t you spend a great deal of time laughing uproariously about how anyone that challenges you has no chance to conquer you?

Real-life example: You’re the boss. You have peons for a reason. Use them. Just because you can do that boring, tedious task doesn’t mean you should. Unless everyone else is sick, use your resources. That’s what you hired them for.

For the love of God, cover your glowing red spot! Okay. I know most bosses seem to have this problem, and I want to be sensitive to your disability, so please bear with me on this one. I know there’s nothing you can do about the glowing red spot — it’s kind of big, and the whole red glowing thing is somewhat hard to conceal.

Real-life example: A manager isn’t expected to know how to do everything, and shouldn’t be. First of all, if you are, then you’re not really a manager. You’re just a glorified peon. However, the Big Boss is going to come down on you when things go wrong, and it’s going to be up to you to find the right person on your team to solve the problem. If that means waking someone up at 3am, then so be it. That’s what you’re paying them for. Besides, the big boss woke you up at 3am; might as well spread the wealth.

Ignore these tips for video game bosses at your peril; there’s always going to be some scrappy youngster with a lot of cut-scenes aiming for your glowing red spot, and the last thing you need to do is make it easy to get knocked off.

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PS: This was post #150. And there was much rejoicing.

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