Employers in white-collar industries have been slow to learn that video game players possess valuable and hard-to-find skills. But as new jobs appear, and the diversity of skills changes, savvy employers will start thinking outside of their traditional recruiting methods and hire candidates that have a range of skills from a variety of subject areas – including gaming.
In a recent Reddit post entitled “It takes 40 hours to unlock a hero. Spreadsheet and Galactic Assault Statistics”, one gamer displayed a statistical prowess that changed how the game maker meted out experience points for online play and that’s the exact kind of data crunching that makes for top-notch financial advisers and data analysts. In fact, recent research suggests that hiring gamers may also help to close the cybersecurity skills gap with three-quarters of senior managers saying they would consider hiring a gamer even if that person had no specific cybersecurity training or experience. Employers should be racing to hire the next stat-crunching gamer and in turn, gamers should start shouting about their gaming credentials while applying for jobs.
So, how can gamers apply their skills on the battlefield to those in the office? And what are the transferable skills that are encouraging employers to hire gamers?
- Exceptional data analysis skills
According to Dr. Curtis Nicholls, an Associate Professor at Bucknell University’s Freeman College of Management, gamers often utilise the kind of hard-core data analysis that financial companies search for in qualified candidates for character builds or loot drop rates.
“Think of the trading and online marketplaces that exist in Eve, or other MMO (massive multiplayer online) style-games,” Nicholls says. “I’ve seen players build pretty massive online spreadsheet systems made by players looking to exploit systems and work on the margins. It’s profit and loss models. It’s basically coming up with an economics statement.”
The statistical game analysis conducted by many MMO players fits perfectly with the data analysis techniques used in finance companies, and the problem-solving aspect of these games can be applied to the complex tasks financial advisors have to complete on a day to day basis.
- Great team player
The ability to work alongside your colleagues and collaborate with them on projects is a trait that the majority of employers look for in their workforce. Athletes can already boast that they’re a team player by talking about how football or hockey forged them into leaders and soon, gamers will be able to talk about team collaboration with the same authority. This is especially true for gamers playing in team strategy games such as Overwatch and League of Legends, where differing character abilities must work together to defeat skilled opponents.
“In those games, it’s all about working together as a team and knowing your teammates,” Nicholls says. “It’s about building on your own team’s strengths and exploiting weaknesses in other teams’ strategies. It’s developed in gaming in a way you don’t recreate through traditional experiences.”
- Leadership skills
Twenty to forty players make up raiding guilds in World of Warcraft and leadership structures emerge, mirroring those in companies or governments. Guilds typically have a guild master who plans strategy for the group and who is often responsible for whether the guild survives or fails. Guild assistants and advisors support the guild leader, acting as a project manager for smaller units within the group. In order for the whole guild to survive, the leaders need to communicate effectively and ensure that each player executes their specific role. Moreover, conflict resolution is a skill quickly learned by guild masters and when a player is faced with a challenge, they are able to demonstrate flexible thinking and create innovative solutions to problems. How the guild master and guild assistants plan their strategy determines whether a raid succeeds or fails.
- Direct communication
Some offices get bogged down by politeness and employees often feel they cannot speak honestly or frankly. In contrast, gamer leaders often get the best results by having a blunt communication style.
The best World of Warcraft (WoW) players can analyse data in real-time while managing challenging situations in a time-sensitive environment. And since they do so online, as opposed to face to face, they develop a style of feedback that is straight to the point, and therefore more suited to streamlined business environments.
In this digital era, employers are looking for more than just the traditional hard and soft skills that are required of all candidates. Demonstrating that you have passions outside of your working life and then framing them to show how well suited you are to the job, will certainly set you apart from the candidate pool. Similarly, finding out if candidates have advanced gaming skills – or perhaps even recruiting gamers – could inject valuable perspectives into workplaces. However, there are still prejudices associated with hobbies such as gaming and some employers will consider gaming a leisure activity rather than a skill.
So, if you’re looking to put your gaming skills on your CV, consider the job in which you’re applying for. You need to go beyond simply mentioning gaming skills on your CV. Ensure that skills you refer to tie into the specific job role and make sure that they’re relevant. Analyse the job ad appropriately and outline what skills you possess instead of putting various unrelated gaming skills on your CV that the employer may not be interested in. Some of the more traditional companies may prefer to hear about you playing football or taking sculpture classes in your spare time but others may enjoy hearing about how managing a guild relates to the role you’re applying for and, as gaming becomes more ingrained into everyday life, it’s likely that more employers will consider WoW and Overwatch players over more traditional candidates.
Thanks to Patrick Soulliere, Global eSports and Gaming Marketing Manager at Ballistix for his time in creating such an in-depth feature.