Does gaming have a place on your CV? (Or even in the office…)

No. Yes. Maybe. Huh?

I once heard a story from an ex-colleague who had stumbled upon a cv one fine morning in which the typical key skills and qualities section comprising Leadership, Organisation, Communication skills etc. had been populated by a combination of real life experiences and achievements and quite bizarrely, instances and accolades drawn from The World of Warcraft.

Whaatt!?

It was fantastic for a good chuckle but sadly, not quite the right sort of stuff that one could justify presenting to a client. What the devil was this chap thinking when he sat down to write about his skills. Sure, if I recall correctly, he wanted to be a programmer or technical support person of some kind, but it wasn’t just as if he had talked about his penchant for gaming in his personal interests as a way perhaps to illustrate his passion for all things technical, but he had actually integrated it into the critical main body of the cv AND had used his gaming ‘experiences’ to illustrate non-technical competencies.

Goomba or Genius?

First reactions naturally were to strike this fellow off from the national register of the clinically sane. But upon reflection, could this be considered a turn of brilliance in leveraging a miss-spent youth (and adulthood potentially) to demonstrate valid skills? I don’t recall if he was a recent graduate, I like to think he was, but is it not the case that employers, and others, often highlight the general lack of practical experience concerning competencies such as leadership and communication symptomatic of isolated study-intensive degrees?

That’s what Internships are for.

Yes, like a normal person you can do an internship or two and even get some part time work during your studies that will give you real world practical experience of dealing with people, organising stuff etc. but let’s face it, that’s nowhere near as fun as playing computer games.

However,

Although it seems absolutely ridiculous to try and pass off your ability to pwn (slang for ‘own’ aka ‘absolutely dominate’ for the non-gamers here) at Call of Duty or Command and Conquer etc. as grounds to get a job, arguably there is significant value in intelligently identifying the relevant skills learnt and experiences gained in the virtual world and subsequently bridging the gap so that these qualities can be suitably translated and applied in the real world. For example, let’s consider The World of Warcraft with this in mind (courtesy of Wired magazine):

When role-playing gamers team up to undertake a quest, they often need to attempt particularly difficult challenges repeatedly until they find a blend of skills, talents, and actions that allows them to succeed. This process brings about a profound shift in how they perceive and react to the world around them. They become more flexible in their thinking and more sensitive to social clues. The fact that they don’t think of gameplay as training is crucial. Once the experience is explicitly educational, it becomes about developing compartmentalized skills and loses its power to permeate the player’s behavior patterns and worldview.

…the process of becoming an effective World of Warcraft guild master amounts to a total-immersion course in leadership. A guild is a collection of players who come together to share knowledge, resources, and manpower. To run a large one, a guild master must be adept at many skills: attracting, evaluating, and recruiting new members; creating apprenticeship programs; orchestrating group strategy; and adjudicating disputes. Guilds routinely splinter over petty squabbles and other basic failures of management; the master must resolve them without losing valuable members, who can easily quit and join a rival guild. Never mind the virtual surroundings; these conditions provide real-world training a manager can apply directly in the workplace.

That is identifying the skills, and this is Stephen Gillet, a senior director at Yahoo, bridging the gap:

I used to worry about not having what I needed to get a job done. Now I think of it like a quest; by being willing to improvise, I can usually find the people and resources I need to accomplish the task.

(Source: Wired Magazine)

For some in-game footage to help ground some of these ideas click below (watch the whole thing, you won’t be disappointed [needs sound]):

In Conclusion

I don’t think we’re quite at the stage where employers will necessarily base their hiring decisions on what level you’ve achieved on World of Warcraft or how many harrier air-strikes you’ve called in, though perhaps if like Mr T. you hacked into the game and created a Night Elf Mohawk class (‘Mr condescending director’) then that might impress, but otherwise keep the gaming achievements off the cv.

The real value is to be had in unobtrusively applying gaming skills learnt to real-life activities, and if you have a particularly boring job, sprucing it up by imagining you’re on a quest.

Share your thoughts below.

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One response to “Does gaming have a place on your CV? (Or even in the office…)

  1. Everyone remotely interested in games and saving the planet needs to watch this inspiring and fantastically creative piece on TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html

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