Minecraft, Gaming, and the Art of Business Craft

My "Business Craft" design. Note: I actually use the term "business craft" at my company to denote a line of services which basically includes all of the "Visual" brand elements that a brand/business needs. Which can be seen on the Marketing page of our website at www.Holonpublishing.com

My "Business Craft" design. Note: I actually use the term "business craft" at my company to denote a line of services which basically includes all of the "Visual" brand elements that a brand/business needs. Which can be seen on the Marketing page of our website at www.Holonpublishing.com

Mining and Getting Work 
Growing up, I channeled much of my boundless creative energy into gaming. My gaming took a hardcore turn when I was in Junior High, and finally peaked when I was a freshmen in High School. The summer after, my gaming declined and I became more enveloped in music and other avenues for my creative energy. I shunned gaming, thinking that I would never return.

Fast forward several years, when I was 20, and first working as a freelance graphic designer, I had what I'd like to call a "relapse" (one of several) back into gaming, World of Warcraft in particular. At 20, I had just left two jobs that were in hindsight really great, right before Indiana University's winter break, when I realized that I wasn't going to make rent, or be able to buy groceries, if I didn't get the ball rolling on some new work. One week, when I should have been applying for jobs, I binged on World of Warcraft, on my old character, an Undead Warrior and Miner/Blacksmith. But rather than raiding dungeons, or engaging in Player VS Player competitions, I was doing two things: mining, and selling my ores at the auction house to afford better gear. I mined and sold relentlessly. I had never understood how players had acquired so much gold in game, until then. I learned then that making money in real life isn't any different. We need to mine, and craft, and sell, and ship. Repeat. This sparked the inspiration to pursue work on my own, as an independent professional. In the same way that I propositioned my ores in "general chat" to other players for sale, so I went out and propositioned my design services.  

it was in this glorious moment that I learned not only to embrace gaming again, but realized how profoundly gaming had effected my skills as a freelance professional, and my mindset as an entrepreneur. Fast forward just a few more years, I'm running a publishing and new media company called Holon, that I founded in a coffee shop, while still playing music, and crafting time to game when I can. For the past two winters, I've embraced moderate gaming again as a form of entertainment. 

This very process of "mining" is the primary function of Minecraft, as we all know. It is also the primary function of "getting work," or getting business, especially if you're an entrepreneur. 

The Orgrimmar Auction House in World of Warcraft, which might as well be the world trade center, as each server has a kind of "Global Economy." I borrowed this photo from RPG Tutor's "WOW Gold Guide" 

The Orgrimmar Auction House in World of Warcraft, which might as well be the world trade center, as each server has a kind of "Global Economy." I borrowed this photo from RPG Tutor's "WOW Gold Guide" 

Survival Mode - of the Fittest
So - let's talk about why Minecraft, one of the most popular games, arguably of the century so far, is a game that people who want to run, or start, or grow businesses, can and should learn from: 

It's "Survival Mode." You have a few pieces of bread, a few hearts of health, some crude tools (or no tools at all) and you're surrounded by an endless landscape filled with strange creatures, beauteous biomes of glades, deserts, mountains...and Zombie Pigmen. You have one hour before the sun sets, and have one place to go if you want to survive; down. 

So you forge some tools, you make for the hills, but just then, you realize your pick broke, and you don't have any torches. You're in the dark. You survive until dawn, but you're out of food, and you have to dig yourself, by hand, out of this hole that you've created. You make it above ground, with only a few hearts left. It's time to hunt! 

Or, farm. 
This is exactly what running a business can be like. This is exactly what starting a company was like, for me. I would be greatly skeptical if I found any good entrepreneur, who enjoyed Minecraft, that didn't agree that their experience was directly linked with their experience starting, and growing a business. 

Screenshot of the Market in Empire Legacy. Here, players rent shops to sell their goods. The markets hold hundreds of goodies and make players thousands of in-game "Denarii," the currency standard based off of ancient Rome. 

Screenshot of the Market in Empire Legacy. Here, players rent shops to sell their goods. The markets hold hundreds of goodies and make players thousands of in-game "Denarii," the currency standard based off of ancient Rome. 

I took this photo as I was demonstrating to a client how to use Instagram, and explaining how it could benefit her business. This example of "social media marketing" is kind of meta, because the photo itself is promotional. Everything about this idea came from gaming, for me. In-game screenshots would always be used as a ploy to get new clan/guild/faction members. 

I took this photo as I was demonstrating to a client how to use Instagram, and explaining how it could benefit her business. This example of "social media marketing" is kind of meta, because the photo itself is promotional. Everything about this idea came from gaming, for me. In-game screenshots would always be used as a ploy to get new clan/guild/faction members. 

Factions/Guilds and Social Media Marketing
As a prime example, I often like to explain that my skills in social media marketing, which I provide today to businesses, organizations, and authors, professionally, came directly from both my early music career, but even more so, from my early days as an online gamer. In my hardcore gamer days I was relentlessly promoting my Starcraft "Clans" or my World of Warcraft "Guilds" and getting people to join my ranks. I was constantly "selling" to other players some in-game Roleplaying plot, or some new map that I had created. It was highly effective. That was before Facebook was a thing. That was Social Media Marketing in its raw form, before "Social Media Marketing" was even a term. 

Recently, I joined an incredible server, that places a strong emphasis on Empire Building, called Empire Legacy.  This, hands down, is my kind of server. From what I understand, the founder himself, Liam aka "Exagerate" is a bit of a young entrepreneur himself, from the UK! 

This server, and its style of gameplay with the Minecraft engine, demonstrates directly the qualities that make Minecraft a brilliant learning tool for people interested in creative business of any kind, whether its selling their art, or starting the next tech big startup.

Empire Legacy features vibrant factions, like guilds, where players are working together to build their empires, and economies - and in some cases, to destroy each other's empires and compete for power and territory. But this description barely does justice to the vibrant economy that this server has created within the Minecraft Engine, and the brilliant architecturally rich cityscapes by working together as a community. 

Here's a major shipment of one of our Fantasy Novels at our office at Holon Publishing. I can't express properly how good it feels to get a shipment of books at our office - and it feels equally great to ship those boxes out the door when it's time for them to be turned into money, for ourselves, and our authors. Now... starting selling those countless stacks of cobble! 

Here's a major shipment of one of our Fantasy Novels at our office at Holon Publishing. I can't express properly how good it feels to get a shipment of books at our office - and it feels equally great to ship those boxes out the door when it's time for them to be turned into money, for ourselves, and our authors. Now... starting selling those countless stacks of cobble! 

My Design workshop in Illustrator. When I'm designing something, I swear I'm using the same parts of my brain as when i'm problem-solving in a game. They feel virtually the same to me. Especially in Minecraft. 

My Design workshop in Illustrator. When I'm designing something, I swear I'm using the same parts of my brain as when i'm problem-solving in a game. They feel virtually the same to me. Especially in Minecraft. 

Crafting and Shipping Work 
You've mined your heart out, and it's time to create! This is the alchemy that defines the exhilarating experience of Minecraft - and also business. You just landed that contract, for however much Denarii, I mean gold, I mean cash, the client is paying you. Now it's time to work. 

This is where the "grinding" process of gaming becomes very practical in business. If you're like me, and you have no boss overseeing your schedule, then your only boss is time - and perhaps the demand of the client. In this state, you must be very careful. You must also be very diligent. You have to grind, create, and ship. Then keep shipping. It's a mental process no-different from the process of killing mobs, or mining minerals, in gaming.

In fact, I've found, that if you can train your mind to think of your grind at work, similar to your grind in-game - then you can work much more efficiently, and have a lot more fun in the process. 

Storing things in chests  and Organizing "Stuff"
This will be the last thing that I talk about in this post, as it's the thing that I'm absolutely the worst at. In the past, I've been really, really, disorganized. I've become a lot better, in running a business. I've had to become a lot better, to be able stay in business for over two years now. I've learned much better ways to organize data, organize my records and most importantly, my resources and time. What I've found: The ratio of the organization of resources to time, is tremendous, and makes a huge difference on your success in gameplay. We see this most in games like Starcraft, a land which we'll delve into later. But i recently came to the revelation of what better organizing stuff in chests did for my performance in Minecraft, and for my brain. 

Putting things, like resources, in the right places, and just the value of "Knowing" where they are, makes worlds of difference when you're always on the go. In business, this can be the difference between making cost-effective choices, and making costly choices that can put you in serious debt if not managed properly. 

Currently; I'm embracing the practice of organizing my business life in the most effective ways. Trying to figure out the same thing, in Minecraft... 

Gaming today, in general, is a beautiful channel for creative energies. It hones serious problem solving methods, team building, and tactical methods of using resources. Besides which, it's just damn fun, and you get to meet amazing people all over the world. I simply would have never learned how to start a business on my own without my experience as a gamer.