The rea­sons why you should be hir­ing a gamer

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Les Allen Les Allen is the Di­rec­tor of Icon Comics & Games Con­ven­tion, in its 25th year. It takes place this year at the Gal­lagher Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in Midrand from June 16 to 18.

ANY EM­PLOYER would love to se­cure an em­ployee with the five key skills for the 21st cen­tury work en­vi­ron­ment which in­clude: Prob­lem Solv­ing, Cre­ativ­ity, Col­lab­o­ra­tion, Ne­go­ti­a­tion and Hu­man In­ter­ac­tion. But where ex­actly should you go to find these peo­ple? It’s tough enough to some­times find suit­able em­ploy­ees, let alone a can­di­date that ticks each of the above boxes. The an­swer is, ac­tu­ally, quite sim­ple: look to the gamer.

Last year, dur­ing Icon Comics & Games Con­ven­tion, these skills sets were high­lighted in a panel dis­cus­sion be­tween South African tech an­a­lyst and com­men­ta­tor Arthur Gold­stuck, and Nikki Bush, well known colum­nist and spe­cial­ist in the field of “child play and devel­op­ment” mat­ters fol­low­ing much de­bate about how to be a tech-savvy par­ent.

But let’s clar­ify what we mean by gamer: yes, it does re­fer to com­puter and con­sole gam­ing (think Playsta­tion and X-box), but it also refers to an en­tire group of non-elec­tronic games. The geek sub-genre of table­top gam­ing, which refers to board games, minia­ture fig­ures and role play­ing games like Dun­geons & Dragons, was worth $1.21 bil­lion (R15.73bn) in North Amer­ica in 2016.

How, then, can we jus­tify the claim that some­one who plays games is equipped with the best skill set for your busi­ness? Let’s take each of the above skills in turn, look­ing at them through a gam­ing lens.

Prob­lem solv­ing: Any­one who’s played a com­puter game re­mem­bers that there was a time when you got stuck – how do you get Su­per Mario to jump over the car­niv­o­rous venus fly trap, but still make it un­der the gap into the tun­nel on the other side? In role­play­ing games, the trap in the dun­geon is a com­mon trope, and one false step will see you, and any­one else with you, burnt to a crisp from a mag­i­cal fire­ball. Fre­quently con­fronting prob­lems is par for the course for the gamer – the more of­ten you do it, the bet­ter you get at han­dling them.

Cre­ativ­ity: The trap sce­nario is ex­cel­lent to demon­strate this point – com­mon an­swers to tricky sit­u­a­tions might not work, and you need to fig­ure out an­other way to an­swer the ques­tion. Chal­lenges are a key part of gam­ing (oth­er­wise, what’s the point?), and when gamers con­stantly ex­pose them­selves to new, dif­fer­ent, and dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions, the mind comes up with new, and in­ven­tive ways to solve prob­lems.

Col­lab­o­ra­tion and Ne­go­ti­a­tion: The most pop­u­lar es­ports games in­volve a “five-on-five” for­mat and, much like other pro­fes­sional sports, un­der­stand­ing the tac­tics of the teams you’re go­ing to face can make the dif­fer­ence be­tween go­ing home and win­ning your share of $20.7 mil­lion (which was the prize money on of­fer at the 2016 Dota in­ter­na­tional fi­nals). There is space to be the hero, but like any team-based en­deav­our, things go much bet­ter when you fig­ure out the strengths and weak­ness of the team, and work to­gether to ac­com­plish a goal.

Col­lab­o­ra­tive

Hu­man In­ter­ac­tion: This might ini­tially seem at odds with the con­cept of gam­ing, but as we’ve seen gam­ing is not al­ways a solo en­deav­our. Some games are col­lab­o­ra­tive – in­ter­ac­tion can be in the phys­i­cal space, es­pe­cially when it comes to board games and role play­ing games, which can re­quire a reg­u­lar com­mit­ment to meet up, but that can also ex­tend on­line. Mas­sive mul­ti­player on­line games at­tract hun­dreds of thou­sands of play­ers world­wide, and pro­mote and en­cour­age player in­ter­ac­tion: in more than a few in­stances, it’s not pos­si­ble to com­plete the game on your own, and the so­cial as­pect of con­nect­ing with other play­ers is en­cour­aged.

The in­dus­try buzz­words are all catered for: For­ward think­ing and strate­gic plan­ning (“How do I build my army faster than my op­po­nent across the next six hours?”); Lead­er­ship and so­cial­i­sa­tion (“We can take out the en­emy with a co-or­di­nated as­sault – here’s what we’re go­ing to do …”); Men­tal and cre­ative prow­ess (“It took me a few tries, but I fig­ured out a way to beat the mon­ster by not us­ing”). The no­tions of pa­tience, per­se­ver­ance and per­sis­tence also come into play – some games re­quire a player to per­form hours of repet­i­tive tasks to slowly build up the skills or re­sources to progress in the game (a process known as “grind­ing”).

It’s com­mon prac­tice for CVs to carry in­for­ma­tion about a can­di­date’s hob­bies and in­ter­ests: now that you know there’s a key skill set hid­ing among the gamers, you may want to take a sec­ond look at those with gam­ing in­ter­ests.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

There’s a key skill set hid­ing among the gamers, says the writer.

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