5 Product Management traits you learn by playing Point and Click games

The Secret of Point and Click Games

Point and Click Games are a type of adventure games that don’t usually involve active combat. You rely on interacting mainly with the mouse or any point device, clicking different things and picking up or combining items, to solve puzzles and move the story along. They are (often) graphic rich, heavily focussing on illustrating a story.

Poin and Click Games became majorly popular in the 90s, and some of them still hold up today.

Having played games, such as Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango and Space Quest, as a youngster, Point and Click games have been some of the most intriguing and exciting ones to play.

Now, more than two decades later, working in Product, I still find them inspirational and relevant to my day to day job.

Here are 5 thing you can learn from playing a Point and Click game, when working in Product.

Discovery (and talking) is key

Point and Click games often have a rich narrative, meaning that there is a need to explore and discover, to progress.

You will only be succesful in completing the story by walking and looking around, picking up and combining items, talking to characters and giving them those items they need. Information is key and the outcome is dependent on what you do with the “data” that is provided to you.

Point and Click game options and inventory
Point and Click game options and inventory

Now doesn’t that feel a lot like running a discovery phase?

During Product Discovery we try to refine our ideas by deeply understanding our surroundings and real customer needs, to land the best way to solve them.

Treat it like a puzzle you need to solve

You will only be succesful in finishing a Point and Click game by efficiently doing the before mentioned (well unless you use a walkthrough ofcourse, though that might be more tricky in real life, than in a game...though… if anyone has one for a specific product, please hook me up!).

I always got a kick out of connecting the dots and managing to progress. There were always occasions, before that, where the game felt pretty frustrating. In the end though it always felt rewarding and provided great you, putting the pieces of the puzzle together and finding the solution.

In product management for me it is nothing else. There will be events on the path to product domination, to figure out and solve for. It helps a lot there to treat building a product as trying to solve a puzzle. If you treat building a succesful product as if you were playing a Point and Click game, with puzzles to solve, it instantly becomes much more enjoyable.

There needs to be some good fun

As said, solving puzzles can be frustrating at time and a good dosis of humor can take (some of) that frustration away. Point and Click games have a sublime way of doing this, with quirky humor.

For instance in day of the tentacles early in the game, when you first talk to Betsy Ross as Hoagie, she’ll tell you not to give her another design change for the flag. Yet the only talking cue you will be given is "I’ve got another design change for the flag".

Or what about some of these Secret of Monkey Island gems

“You fight like a dairy farmer”
“How appropriate. You fight like a cow”

“Have you stopped wearing diapers yet?”
“Why, did you want to borrow one?”

“I once owned a dog that was smarter than you.”
“He must have taught you everything you know.”

Working in Product is serious, and when you don’t watch it, you might take it too serious, which lowers your own and team moral. That’s why, it is crucial to treat things lightly and make sure to have fun along the way.

Try these free morale boosters for remote teams <<HERE>>.

Not everything is as it seems to be

Let’s get back to the sometimes frustrating parts of solving a puzzle. Why it sometimes was frustrating to me was because I taught that I understood what was needed to be done to progress, but then found out that I was taking the wrong direction and should take a different course of action.

Working in Product is similar, in the sense that it is good to have assumptions, but proof is in the data (going to trademark that one). Not everything is as it might seem and understanding situations better, by collecting insights, will help realize this.

If you do it well you will succeed

This probably goes without saying, but yeah I am one of those cocky bastards who is damned proud and feels good about himself having finished all the Point and Click Games he played.

(shoutout to my brother though as he sometimes solved them for me…rats… this could have been another key learning #dontbeafraidtoaskforhelpandfreshviews).

Anyway if you execute on the previous ones you will eventually reach your goals working in Product.

I hope you have enjoyed and make sure to get the free games linked in this article. For now I salute all you product People, singing off K. Hermans for Sharpwitted.ninja.

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Klaas Hermans

Klaas Hermans

Lifetime in digital and innovation, ensuring value delivery. I enjoy energizing and motivating teams, who create and exceed product expectations