A BRIEF survey among some prominent Malaysian business personalities indicates that most believe gamers may actually be better decision-makers. Chief executive officer Shafiq Akmal Ismail of Malaysia Microelectronic Solutions Sdn Bhd (My-MS), a self-confessed avid gamer, readily admits that he plays online games at least three hours every night, between midnight and 3am mostly.
A big fan of first person-shooter (FPS) games, such as Battlefield Vietnam and Call of Duty, Shafiq says gaming can be instrumental in developing essential entrepreneurial skills. (FPS is a game played from the first-person perspective; the player is embodied in the character they control).
"For example, in Battlefield Vietnam, where 12 players fight another team of 12, strategic decision-making is required. A capable leader needs to be appointed and everyone needs to work in a team or else the group can be easily vanquished."
Shafiq also thinks that gaming helps hone an important but often underrated business virtue -- patience.
"Many games constantly challenge us to strategise, be patient in carrying out the strategy, think, and re-assess at every level. It also helps us cope with losing."
Having been a gamer for the past 25 years, Shafiq strongly encourages his staff to join him in his hobby online.
"I often go out to meet outsiders and don't have enough time for them. I think it's a good way to connect with each other and share our problems as we chat while playing."
One of Malaysia's more recognised young millionaires, Ganesh Kumar Bangah, who built MOL AccessPortal Bhd from scratch to become one of the biggest online payment service providers in Asia, was also once a gamer.
"I used to be a casual MMO gamer. I don't play so often these days as I travel a lot, but now and then, I might get into CityVille or FarmVille."
(MMO games are played in a network required environment where interactions with other 'real' characters is the key. Most games in this genre are RPG (role-playing game) based, but there are a growing number of RTS (real-time strategy) games that are springing up in this category.)
The self-made millionaire, who acquired social networking website Friendster in 2009, reveals that he used to play between two and three hours a day back when he was schooling.
One of the biggest lessons he believes gaming has taught him is how to work with different people and leverage on everyone's strengths to achieve a common goal.
"It's about tackling a challenge together and trying different strategies. If we fail, we work on it again. There's always more than one way to skin a cat. You learn to work with what you have and not be afraid to try new things."
He also feels that when one is stuck with a difficult problem, it is good to take one's mind off it by immersing self into a game.
"Who knows, you might come back with a solution. I'm not saying everyone should do this. If gaming works for you, great."
Successful entrepreneur turned Petaling Jaya Utara member of parliament Tony Pua, also used to play video games religiously, although he hardly has the time to indulge these days.
Pua was formerly the chief executive of Cyber Village Sdn Bhd, a SESDAZ-listed company. In early 2007, the Oxford University graduate disposed of all his interests in the company and tendered his resignation to join politics.
While he was still actively playing, he used to clock about eight hours a week at his computer, often during weekends or late at night.
Pua thinks different types of games hone different skill sets. Those "mindless ones" like Street Fighter, says Pua, are great to relieve stress while testing one's reaction and reflex.
Then there are those which test the mind by requiring one to seek clues to solve puzzles like in the Final Fantasy series, he adds.
"In many role-playing and adventure games, one has to evaluate options and make choices to complete the adventure.
"You will fail many times before you get to the end and these will help you understand the consequences of your actions and make better choices in the next attempt."
AirAsia Bhd's group chief executive officer and director Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes concurs that gamers do tend to make better decisions.
"But I think they can become socially inept."