I don’t consider myself a gamer, but I like to play some games from time to time. I usually like games where I need to manage a squad, that have tactical and strategic depth. Sometimes I say that this helps me being a better manager.

It’s not that in my day-to-day affairs I gain from the experience of leading virtual heroes to battle. But I do face new and weird challenges on those games, and sometimes I can correlate to the real world.

Darkest dungeon

I’m currently playing Darkest Dungeon, and it’s amazing what this dark game forced me to play as. This is a game where we need to lead heroes to dark dungeons, filled with terror. A main mechanic of the game is stress. Heroes will suffer stress on performing these missions. They may gain afflictions or even die by a heart attack if they reach the maximum stress level.

We’ll need to take care of that stress, by investing money and taking care of them on proper city facilities. We may also train them and improve their tools.

Darkest manager

It’s impressive how the game forces the player to be a ruthless manager. While I always try to be a good manager to my virtual team, the game mechanics made me summon my bad side. Specially then the game made me realise the following:

In this game, people are the less expensive resource.

Every week we have low level recruits (trainees) and it costs nothing to hire them. It does cost to send them to missions, to train them or to give them better tools. But without any investment I can already take value from them.

I can get 4 fresh recruits and send them to a mission right away. They will gain super stress and will struggle. Probably some will get killed. Hopefully not all of them because that will make me lose my earnings. So I invest very little and I have good returns. I can even send them with less food and less torches. By starving and having to do the mission in the dark, they’ll gain even more stress, but the game makes sure that I gain more treasures.

The ones that survive and bring me treasures will probably have a huge stress level and will need to go to the city facilities that handle that. But that costs money. So here is the kicker: I just dismiss them.

Some of them will actually get through and level up and be better, even if I don’t invest anything in them. But when they reach a specific level, they will reject performing tasks of lower levels. The only way for me to take dividends of them is if I invest in making them better to take them to harder missions.

But because the game limits the amount of heroes I can have, this means that if I don’t have a steady stream of recruits that grow to retirement or die, I won’t have space for these hard working heroes. I’ll need to dismiss them also.

And what do I gain from this? Money. With money earned from squeezing these heroes I improve my city facilities. And I can invest in making a select set of heroes better, to be able to go on missions on harder dungeons.

Summary

All this is about heroes and dungeons but we can correlate it with the real world. It’s funny how the game leads the player to be this way. It could have added some mechanics to balance this a bit. For example, if my city started to have a bad reputation, and if the stream of candidates decreased… that would force the player to invest in taking care of the heroes. The player could not afford to have that level 3 hero that was never trained and was dismissed, going to glassdor and leaving a bad review. Saying that I sent them to very stressful missions with little food and bad tools. And that I earned a lot and didn’t invest in the hero at all.

Or the stress from the trainees could somehow also affect the stress from the main heroes. It’s like when we have a team or some people that are toxic and contaminate the rest.

And that could make for the higher level heroes, the ones that are very valuable, to just leave. That would be a hard blow to my finances.

But hey, it would be just a matter of time. I’d fetch more trainees and restart the loop.