In the last three decades, video games have become increasingly ubiquitous in the lives of young people. So, too, has the endless debate on the perceived harmfulness of a youth obsessed with consoles, arcades and apps. It has been argued that the shift from outdoors play to video games is not only a threat to physical health, but a potential toll on the development of social cues. But as technology advances, so do attitudes, and gaming is coming to be recognized as a legitimate and respected interest; a skill evolver, an integral part of culture, and even a valued hobby amongst recruiters. In fact, including your gaming achievements on your CV could even give you an edge over other applicants. Not convinced? Let’s take a look at why…
Esports Has Transformed Gaming
Ten years ago, if I were to tell someone that competitive gaming would one day be considered a legitimate spectators sport by governments, and that gaming would be a serious profession in league with chess or tennis, they might have laughed at me. And yet, today, over 150 million regularly tune in to watch teams compete in the live tournaments of their favourite video games – teams comprised of young professionals who dedicate their life toward training to be a better gamer. They make a lot of money from it, too – not to mention the international stardom and travel opportunities that comes with such a profession. To reach this level of success within competitive gaming, or ‘esports’, requires immense skill and commitment- and so, even coming close to competing on a professional level is a feat that warrants respect.
With the growing popularity and recognition of esports, it is perhaps no wonder that gaming is taken more seriously these days. That’s not to say that the traditional gamer stereotype doesn’t persist. Gamers are often deemed lazy, antisocial or immature – particularly by older generations. In many instances the judgement might be fair. Gaming does, after all, attract the introverted and physically inactive, whilst being a popular hobby amongst teenagers who have more time on their hands than the average adult with a full-time job. But there is a difference between an unambitious, habitual gamer who spends their weekend playing Mario Kart, and someone who puts time and effort into advancing within a challenging game such as Dota 2 or Minecraft. To dismiss the vast number of gamers who utilize and build upon skills within gaming is something recruiters have only just started to acknowledge as a big mistake.
A Different Generation
The fact that recruiters are realizing this is due in part to the first ever video gamer generation growing up and becoming employers themselves. Today’s thirty to forty year olds have a better understanding of gaming, and are more likely to appreciate the hard work that goes into gaming at higher levels. Games such as World of Warcraft or League of Legends encompass complex alternative worlds which reflect real communities with uniquely developed social structures. As such, there’s a great deal of skill and commitment that goes into creating and maintaining a persona in this world. A successful gamer will need skills that are equally applicable in real life scenarios, including those encountered at the workplace. Teamwork, multi-tasking, problem-solving, creativity, goal setting, strategic planning, dedication and communication skills; all of these are talents a recruiter actively seeks in a candidate, and all are skills that are evidenced through certain levels of gaming experience.
Consider also the fact that gamers who employ these skills do so out of pure passion. There’s rarely a financial motive. Instead, the gamer’s reward comes from the satisfaction of a job well done – of advancing within the game, making a name for oneself and supporting other players. Even online poker, with all its history, was once played primarily for financial gain, but is now seeing a major resurgence now that streaming platforms like Twitch have turned it into a social game whereby players can build a following with strategy videos and poker commentary.
John Seely Brown, a researcher of organizational structures, controversially stated that he’d “rather hire a high-level World of Warcraft player than an MBA from Harvard”. The reasoning, Brown explains, comes down to the unique experience one gains from playing in a high-level World of Warcraft guild.
“These guilds will be sometimes 100, 200 people. They don’t have a bonus structure to guide them or to incent them. Only passion, only interest works…groups go off and say, I’m going to study this. I’m going to try this idea out and by tonight I will have consolidated . . . this class of ideas about how this particular new magic potion might actually work to re-heal you faster.”
John Seely Brown
Increased Use of Gaming Technology in the Workplace
As pointed out on Wired, game simulations are now commonly used as training techniques for pilots, mechanics and other professions. The effectiveness of games in training is due to what can be described as ‘experiential learning’. “Accidental learning transcends intentional training” is the argument, with studies indicating a greater effectiveness of subtle education as opposed to forced learning. As games become more commonplace in both schools and professional courses, acceptance broadens, as the value of games is better understood. In Scandinavian countries, attitudes are especially progressive when it comes to gaming. Plenty of educational institutions offer after-school game clubs as alternatives to traditional sports.
An increasingly digitalized world calls for different standards, and we are seeing those changing standards appear within recruitment. Of course, including ‘gaming’ as a hobby on your CV will not always be appropriate. Some companies will still prefer candidates that stick to the traditional, as not all employers are of a younger, tech-savvy generation. If in doubt, it might be wiser to play it safe. Otherwise, if you think your gaming achievements are relevant to the qualities an employer wants demonstrated, then by all means – include your gamer experience! Chances are you’ll impress by standing out amongst the stamp collectors and amateur bakers…