The BBC recently published an interesting article about a company called Game Academy and their work in helping gamers and employers recognise the skills that can be applied to real-life work situations. It’s an interesting idea to me for three reasons:
The idea of adding gaming skills to your CV is quite a modern concept and will likely face a lot of opposition, with the main concerns being:
I’m going to go ahead and answer all four questions for you: yes, no, and yes.
A vast array of skills are developed when playing video games; some unintentionally learned, but others are actively developed by those who really want to further themselves. Different games require different skills, too. For the sake of argument, I’m going to absolutely admit this doesn’t apply to all gamers and we’re hypothetically talking about the best gamers with a mature attitude.
What skills are there in gaming, then?
Let’s take a real-time strategy game as an example – how about good old Age of Empires? This game will set out a mission from the very start and perhaps scatter some side objectives out there too. The player is required to meet this end objective and is encouraged to complete the side objectives for a nice little reward on top of that.
Other than a basic tutorial, the player is given very little in the way of guidance on how to complete the objective; this is for them to figure out and work towards by themselves. On top of this, they may have a civilization to manage, an enemy to combat, and a map to traverse; all kinds of things happening at once.
Now imagine the work you do on a day to day basis – does this sound similar?
It’s proven that games can relieve stress, but can they improve the way you deal with it? I strongly believe the answer is yes – maybe not a black-and-white yes – but a yes all the same.
Video games are an effective way of relieving stress in moderation, as with many things, but what people haven’t perhaps thought about is that the stress a gamer can experience within the game causes them to develop a coping response that can be applied outside of the situation.
Let’s think about three highly enraging video games which are perfect examples: League of Legends, Fortnite, and Rocket League. These communities are all passionate and enthusiastic but they certainly love to flip tables over a loss or poor teamwork – there’s no doubt about it, when your competitive rank is on the line, your stress levels are skyrocketing.
Competitive gamers who can keep a cool head in a stressful game can often inspire their team to a win and prevent ‘tilting’ (an emotional response to a situation which negatively affects personal and team performance). The best competitive gamers will not be upset by a loss, but will learn from it – which leads me on to the next of our gaming skills...
Have you ever thought about how esports teams are formed? The path to pro esports competition involves forming a team, reviewing and improving team performance, planning tactics, entering tournaments, and managing a group of people. All in personal time, with very little instruction or input from anyone, other than a coach perhaps.
Overwatch is a great example of this. Blizzard offer regular players participation in something called ‘Open Division’. Other than that, though, it’s completely upon the players to organise and participate by themselves.
I played in an Overwatch team over three seasons of Open Division and I can definitely tell you it’s hard work forming and maintaining a competitive team. This requires leadership and organisation skills, as well as the ability to review and improve your performance outside of your tournament games. Also, most teams can’t afford to hire a coach either, so you have to coach your teammates on their performance too – this takes a great deal of interpersonal ability, using actual coaching and psychological techniques so as not to offend/impact the team negatively.
How much can video games really tell you about managing money on a business scale? Actually… a lot.
EVE Online is a space-based MMORPG that is renowned for having one of the largest and most detailed fictional economies ever. Almost every item in the game is gathered, created, and bought/sold by the players. The economy inside the game is driven by real-world economics and players using this system effectively would have highly transferrable skills that could be applied to the economics of our actual world.
Games like Stellaris and Sim City require the player to manage a budget, thinking constantly about what they can/cannot afford, as well as actively judging whether expenses are justified compared to their benefit. Whilst Sim City remains quite accessible to the average player, space-based Stellaris’ budgeting and resource management is so ridiculously intricate you could probably learn to run the city of Leeds using the same skills.
Lastly, veteran MMORPG Runescape has often been renowned for its active player-driven economy as well. Jagex never saw player activity known as ‘merchanting’, however: the activity of recognising which items have the best return on investment and can be bought cheaply and sold high. The really skilled merchants can actually influence the price of certain items on the exchange to maximise their profit – much like some play the stock market in real life.
Gaming skills are so much more complex than simple problem solving as I hope you’ll agree. Next time you’re writing up your CV, or perhaps reading one, it could be worth a thought about whether you’ve applied any of these skills in your games – you might just surprise yourself!