About three years ago there was an interesting article about how the board game Settlers of Catan had grown in popularity among some pretty important people. Included in the list were the heads of several important companies including that guy Mark Zuckerberg who sort of created that thing called Facebook which your boss is always nagging you to get off of, when he isn’t too busy checking his timeline. So it turns out that the new generation of Silicon Valley CEO’s are not part of the traditional CEO crowd, which is to be expected as they are in a place of innovation. So instead of country clubs, golf, and yachts, the power-players of Silicon Valley are often said to be found sitting around tables playing Settles of Catan.
One thing that wasn’t asked, was why Settlers of Catan had become so popular among the Silicon Valley crowd. Well, to start with there is the obvious that Silicon Valley is a very “techy” place, and along with that came an interest in what many described as a “geek” game. So it seems only natural that Settlers of Catan would take the place of a sport like golf which takes a hell of a lot of time to get good at. Not that you become good at Catan in an instant, but I think it is easier for someone with a high IQ and who deals in a very detail oriented work environment to pick up the board game than golf. I played multiple sports for all my life, I still do to this day, yet golf is a sport I realize that I am just hopeless at. In addition to this, Catan is a great game because it teaches players about how to build, how to organize resources, and how plan carefully. Of course, like in real life, the plans often are ruined by your competitors, and thus you are forced to change your plans and think up new strategies and tactics. In this, Catan also offers the need for social interaction, with players often needing to trade with others to accomplish their goals.
In essence, Settlers of Catan is a great game to teach someone business, without actually having them to be working in a business. It really does teach many of the necessary skills needed to be a good manager and leader of a company, and thus I think it is great that the Silicon Valley bigwigs are playing the game. In fact, I plan to use the game in one of my graduate classes to talk about Game Theory, probability, and the use of strategy. I’m sure many like that Catan is competitive, as CEO’s seem to be a naturally competitive bunch, but I think they are also learning some other important lessons from the game.
So there you go, maybe you should try to convince your boss to let you play Catan at your next team building session. It will either make you look great, or you will end up on top of a conference table screaming about your domination of this land of Catan.
Also, I think my wife could totally kick Zuckerberg’s ass in Catan.Add to favorites
This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.