What Can A Board Game Teach About Entrepreneurship?
Children today are being presented with an inordinate amount of video games and iPad apps and text messages. And children should have a chance to play, opportunities to explore the far ends of their imagination. That’s the beauty of being a child. But take a look at job and career prospects is enough to strike fear into the hearts of most people, especially parents.
What kids need today that they’re not getting, that our current system of education fails to introduce them to is adaptability. Is fearlessness. Is entrepreneurship. Recent research suggests that board games are making a comeback, even with the influx of graphics-heavy video game production. There are a few key reasons for this: board games require people to be together and converse with one another – this is something that’s been lost in media connections; also, #board game play helps build strategic thinking and positioning skills – which are crucial to entrepreneurs.
Board games like Know Opportunity help foster many of these skills, and build them out to examine global commerce perspectives. We are now a globalized society. If you’ve shopped on eBay, you’ve probably enacted in a form of global commerce. Anybody with an internet connection can connect with somebody on a different continent. It’s pretty amazing.
Know Opportunity helps you embrace the reality that is globalization – we can no longer fear what is a certainty. When you play the game, you’ll start to recognize your risk tolerance; you’ll see how new situations can either scare or excite you; you’re forced to deliver pitch sessions to the group and improve your persuasive and public speaking skills; from foreign commerce to partnering with other companies, you will learn to identify what opportunity looks like.
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Why Board Games?
Being together creates a shared environment of success. Board games are fun and playing with your friends or family only heightens the pleasure of the board game environment. With strategy and business board games, the fundamentals of entrepreneurship are presented. Things like understanding risks versus rewards, when to take the offense and when to wait for a good opportunity – all these skills are imperative for entrepreneurs to understand.
Further, some business board games require players to track expenses and income, helping them understand the basics of business math. And when you are given the ability to strategize, partner or collaborate with or against the other players, board games make you think critically – another key skill that can translate to any area of business.
4 Key Areas of Deep Learning
Sunni Brown gave a great TED Talk about the four key areas of deep learning. Her talk focused on the idea of doodling (which actually helps people retain and process information, as opposed to not paying attention), but educational board games like Know Opportunity work to engage players on each of those four levels:
- Reading & writing: Players read their profile cards and track income and expenses throughout the game
- Visual: Know Opportunity is visually engaging, appealing to players of all ages
- Auditory: Players are forced to deliver product pitches, which encourages extemporaneous speaking and improves communication skills
- Kinetic: Know Opportunity is involved from the outset and the movement gets the brain juices flowing!
Real Entrepreneurial Issues and Struggles
A lot of “#entrepreneur” and “startup” games and programs don’t seem to account for the real-life scenarios. Many you find out there mention a lot of tech-based issues and promote the idealized version of entrepreneurship you read about in magazines or see on TV. The real deal with entrepreneurship is much more gritty. It’s much less romantic. It’s much harder.
But that’s not a horrible thing. Know Opportunity works to show what the real triumphs and obstacles of small business startup life really look like. The game cards are almost all taken from real-life scenarios. A board game can’t possibly teach you everything there is to know about business or entrepreneurship, but Know Opportunity helps introduce the reality, benefits and struggles of starting a business.
It’s Not Entrepreneurship OR College
One of the questions a lot of parents ask is “Why would I want my child learning about this when they’re going to go to college?” This tells us a couple things:
- That parent is deeply invested in their children’s future success, and that’s a good thing
- The word “entrepreneur” is still scary for a lot of people
- There’s a fear that learning some fundamental entrepreneurial skills won’t translate to career or college success
Fact: The traditional job is almost a thing of the past. Job security is much more fickle than we had anticipated. Even in traditionally stable and foolproof jobs like accounting or medical doctors, are more and more being outsourced to countries where pieces of the job or service can be replicated and completed by somebody working at a wage far less than what it costs in America. But first, let’s address the 800-pound elephant in the room: not everybody is meant or wants to be an entrepreneur. If the world was full of small startups all trying to get their product launched before the rest, we’d have a society where nothing got accomplished. We need corporations, we need established businesses to support the workforce at large and stimulate the economy. The truth is, we need people to go to college and develop the skills that will give them an edge in a changing economic landscape. We need people fluent in international business, skilled engineers to create, skilled technicians to repair, and so on. What’s great about games like Know Opportunity is that the skills of entrepreneurs translate to college success as well as any career pursuit. Think about it – some of the key skills entrepreneurs need to have to be successful are: effective communication – both written and verbal; the ability to grow a network; understanding business finance; time management; and being able to sell. Think about it – each of those skills is directly beneficial to any student trying to complete their undergraduate degree. And certainly those skills are necessary for people in career positions. While not everybody is designed or destined to be an entrepreneur, Know Opportunity wants to help prepare people to understand their strengths so they can be successful. Over the past eight years, college tuitions have skyrocketed and many parents can’t help their children pay for college. Wouldn’t it be great if as a student, your child was able to start a side business with a global outreach and help pay for their way through school? That’s the idea! It’s not college OR entrepreneurship: the two can be married quite nicely!
What Are Your Kids’ Games Really Teaching Them?
Ask any game-enthusiast teenager, and they will likely recite the myriad benefits of gaming – most often the indication that video games might help with improving hand-eye coordination. While the connection may or may not be true, what good is hand-eye coordination if sitting in front of the TV is your biggest ambition? It might also be argued that game play may help improve multi-tasking abilities (though plenty of research on the topic shows multi-tasking is more often a negative than a positive). In the world of business, there is a place where being able to manage multiple projects and deadlines is absolutely beneficial. So this may be taken as a potential benefit. Many will argue that game play (mostly video games) work to improve communication skills. But do they really? When you’re in the comfort of your room, hidden under the guise of a pseudonym and talking with somebody you can’t see, interpersonal communication skills actually get damaged. Board games, however, like Risk and Monopoly and Know Opportunity, actually work to improve verbal communication. Anybody in the business world knows the power and necessity of effective, persuasive communication. When you’re sitting around a table with friends, likely without realizing it, you are picking up on social cues – you learn to understand how people act when they have something to celebrate, and when they have something to lose. Being able to read the verbal and nonverbal cues of your colleagues is essential in developing your business acumen. Further, some board games work to encourage leadership skills. In Risk, you can strategize with other players to vie for total global domination. In Know Opportunity, you have the ability to partner with other businesses and engage in joint ventures. As a leader, you need to be able to recognize when an opportunity presents itself, and be able to act on it.
Games of all sorts can provide some fringe benefits to those who play them. But business board games like Know Opportunity really work to address the core skills necessary for success in careers, school or academic pursuits, and as an entrepreneur looking to bring their products to the entire world. After Know Opportunity reaches a successful KickStarter campaign, the game will be produced and sold. Because Know Opportunity lives by it’s teachings, the game is also currently being licensed in South Africa and Tobago, with other opportunities in England and Morocco. The world is a pretty small place, once you learn how to know opportunity when you see it.