The reasons why you should be hiring a gamer
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.
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.
There’s a key skill set hiding among the gamers, says the writer.