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I’ve always had video games in my life. But there are a few that stand out as waypoints on my journey to where I am now. From watching my mum play Tomb Raider, to falling in love with Pharaoh Queen of the Nile these games have offered some unique first-hand learnings that stay with me in my work today.My entrepreneurial journey has taken me a long way from that little six-year-old getting started with games. But equally, many of the things I tried in games are still with me. I still make notes about strategies and rate how they have gone. I still make sure I know where the money is going and how quickly it’s being spent. I still make sure I’m getting advice and testing ideas with a wider community. Dealing with ambiguity and scarcity in video games, and managing to scale up to beat those computer-controlled opponents, set me up with the right mindset to succeed in business. But also, being willing to fail and try again was just as important in building my resilience when I didn’t conquer the world the first time.
Outcome Founding and running successful businesses and helping others do the same in digital marketing.
This outcome arises from the following 4 milestones over the span of 13 years, from 6 - 19 years-old:
Age: 6-years-old / 01/01/1996 / 28 years ago
Play Styles: Child Watching Game (Onlooker Play) and Child Helps Parent Play (Associative Play)
One of my first memories about video games is watching my mum play Tomb Raider on the old original PlayStation. Although I was a bit freaked out by the wolves at the beginning, I loved watching her work through the game. None of my friends had a mum who was into gaming.Along with it being a little frightening, it was a bit too difficult for me to play myself, but I loved helping when she got stuck. She had bought one of the player guides for the game and I would have this on my lap to help with the puzzles and what to do next. Sometimes when she got really stuck on a puzzle, I would get a turn on the controller!
Activities: Bethan found that the following related activities worked alongside playing Tomb Raider:
Age: 9-years-old / 01/01/1999 / 25 years ago
Play Styles: Child Plays Independently (Independent Play)
I had tinkered with a few games but none gripped me like Pharaoh Queen of the Nile. I remember the day I went into the Game store with my dad and found it on the shelf. I pleaded with him to get it and agreed to spend my pocket money and even do extra chores. He agreed and I returned home with my prize. The game was everything I hoped it would be. You got to manage a city and could control everything to your heart’s content. It was an early lesson in how intricate systems work and something about it really clicked for me. It was all I would do for months. I would repeatedly play the different levels trying to get a better score for each scenario. It let me create my own system to create and manage my cities. I’d come up with intricate plans and then go online to share them with other people. In turn, they would give me ideas which I would take to my next game.
Activities: Bethan found that the following related activities worked alongside playing Pharaoh:
Age: 12-years-old / 01/01/2002 / 22 years ago
Playing Civilization took me from managing single cities to managing a whole nation. I could take what I’d learned and test it out on a bigger stage. What was fascinating was how much of my strategy had to be relearned or refined for this new game where you manage an entire civilisation over the ages.It’s here that my rudimentary skill with games like Pharaoh Queen of the Nile were joined with more nuanced ways of dealing with a complex system. I had to learn how to run an economy and deal with scarcity. I had to make decisions without having all the information. And I had to consider the intended and unintended long term impact of my choices.This ability to deal with complexity, ambiguity and consequences I still draw on today in the business I run. In the game, and since then, I’ve worked to be able to solve problems the way I wanted. I never liked the combat in games, so would strive for economic or diplomatic solutions.
Activities: Bethan found that the following related activities worked alongside playing Sid Meier's Civilization:
Age: 19-years-old / 01/01/2009 / 15 years ago
I continued playing strategy games, but alongside these I introduced other challenges. The one that stands out is The Sims. This took me from the grand scale of working with civilizations on huge projects to the minutiae of dealing with one individual's life.In particular, I enjoyed the careers side of the game. If you are careful you can help the people in your care to work towards specific careers. It was fun trying out different skills and challenges, as well as juggling all this with the other things my Sims needed to do.It’s something that stayed with me. A good entrepreneur isn’t just someone who has a grand vision and ploughs on towards it. I need to take people with me if the projects or businesses I start are going to be a success. Playing The Sims certainly made it clear that applying the same rules of nation-states to individual lives doesn’t always cut it.
The culmination of the milestones in the pathway led to Bethan founding and running successful businesses and helping others do the same in digital marketing. . We have described it as a linear journey, but of course, there is always a fair amount of back and forth between the games they played.
Along with the main outcome Bethan also changed in the following ways:
We focus on how games contribute to this outcome, but also include related activities that play a part of this journey: