Data & Analytics Product Management STL

A Game Plan: How Competitive Video Gaming Prepared Chris Jones for Data Solutions

Chris Jones

Video games have taken Chris Jones from Chicago, Ill., to Columbus, Ohio, to Dallas, Texas, to Raleigh, North Carolina.

And the experiences of competitive gaming have informed his role as a data analyst with Daugherty Business Solutions.

Chris’ first exposure to competitive gaming was with friends, playing in LAN parties. Eventually, the network expanded to include online strangers. This is where Chris realized that, as he was randomly matched with other gamers, he was winning a lot. So he and friends discussed playing competitively.

His first tournament was in Chicago, at the age of 14, with a chaperone.

“My parents were terrified,” Chris recounted.

He and his friends would go on to do 20+ tournaments – mostly in different states, but a few local ones as well.

The first couple of tournaments, Chris and his team got wiped out. Chris realized if they wanted to progress further, they would need to be deliberate about how they practiced.

So they began to watch their opponents, to exploit human mistakes and gain insights into gaming strategies – for example, choosing to control the areas with armor vs. other areas.

They also measured their own performance to chart success, devoting hours to recordings of them playing, and trying to figure out what the other team was doing that they weren’t. They’d choose a top-down view and figure out the positioning. As they watched, they noticed patterns.

It ultimately came down to a combination of mechanics, teamwork and strategy.

The same is true for data analytics solutions.

Whether it’s data stewardship, analysis or visualization, Chris’ focus is on the client. His primary objective is for them to glean insights from data, to see the impacts of subsequent decisions they choose to make. And this means being open to changing requirements, even late in development.

In gaming, Chris and his team would follow a similar approach, starting with a loose outline of what they thought they’d do, then switching things up as soon as they realized their opponents were prioritizing something different. It was this combination of tactical planning, autonomy and flexibility that enabled them to adapt on the fly and still achieve their objectives.

Perhaps what Chris enjoyed most about gaming was being fully responsible for one aspect of the game, while relying on teammates to fulfill their responsibilities.

As a consultant, Chris enjoys the economies of scale that come with working with Fortune 500 clients. He enjoys the autonomy that comes with owning a piece of a system without owning the whole system. It requires him to collaborate with peers for solutions to complex problems.

And collaboration is key.

In gaming, individually, each teammate would practice for hours, beating previous scores to set themselves up mechanically for success. But if they weren’t making the right choices about how to execute those mechanics, their progress would be limited.

“It’s 30 percent just being mechanically the same as everyone else,” Chris said, “and 70 percent teamwork and strategy.”

The same is true for data analytics solutions. Seventy percent of the solution is setting up to ask the right questions, and the other 30 percent is the technical acumen to query it correctly and digitize it in a way that makes sense.

For example, Chris has worked on projects where stakeholders are interested in understanding the answer to a question, but their data hasn’t coordinated with all the right teams. A data project might require a timestamp for every occurrence of a particular transaction, but if one dependency is left out, then the organization can’t draw truly accurate insights.

These days, Chris doesn’t have as much time for video games, but he’s made a lot of lasting friendships through the experience. It’s the memories from that time in his life that are the most important to him.

And it’s the collaboration, lifelong learning and professional growth among peers that keeps Chris at Daugherty.

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