Counter Point: Gamers do make better employees!

Recently, fellow WalletPop writer Zac Bissonnette recently wrote about IBM's David Laux, who told the BBC that gamers make better employees. Laux cited the case of his daughter who, at age 11, was already dealing with complex business decisions and the implications of each choice by managing her own zoo online. The skill transference from gaming doesn't stop there, IBM has also found that playing games like World of Warcraft led to increased leadership skills; which my colleague Zac disagrees with.

Zac questions how, "sitting alone in your underwear eating Hot Pockets and drinking Jolt has anything to do with business -- even it is combined with controlling a cluster of pixels." This is an excellent question and if anyone can answer it please clue me in, but this tired gaming stereotype needs to be taken out back and shot. This kind of thinking is exactly why some employers are explicitly telling their recruiters to avoid gamers.

To be clear, gaming doesn't lead to increased aptitude in business due to pushing pixels around a make believe world -- if it did then the business world would have been singing the praises of video games back in the 80's and 90's. The reason that games, specifically World of Warcraft, have lead to leadership abilities and other transferable skills is due to the fact that to get anywhere in the game you have to work with others and manage a team of far-flung individuals whose only similarity to you may be that they enjoy playing World of Warcraft.

Much like in the workplace, you may encounter individuals who don't share the same morals, beliefs, political or religious affiliations or sexual orientation, yet to complete the task at hand players need to work together. Throughout this experience, many gamers will take a leadership role, in essence, managing a collection of workers.

Once a group is formed, the leader or leaders need to:

  1. Determine a goal.
  2. Get all of the players to show up.
  3. Delegate responsibilities based on skill sets.
  4. Quickly change direction or strategy based on feedback once the task is at hand.
  5. Celebrate a job well done or deal with a loss.
Once you remember that the leader is managing, say, 20 individuals in this manner rather than simply controlling a game on his own the transference of skills to the business world should become clear. How many other hobbies allow individuals to gain managerial experience that's applicable in an office or when dealing with a group of telecommuters?

I'm not saying that being a gamer automatically makes you a better employee, the people I run into on Xbox Live assure me of that, but due to the connected nature of many of today's games; playing them can make you a better employee. If any company can speak to this it's IBM, not because they make computers but because they have spent at least 10 Million dollars on Second Life, another MMORPG, as a tool to be used in business.

Just like the job skills I learned cleaning bathrooms, working at a coffee shop and a technology center have helped me become a better employee today; gaming can provide individuals with skills that make them better employees. After all, gamers are productive members of society, they live and breathe right next to you. They are Senators, lawyers, doctors, CEOs, teachers and members of pretty much any other profession that you can name. And in case you haven't picked up on it, I am too!
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