After Hours

Gamers make good employees

Gamers are often stereotyped as lazy, unmotivated slackers. However, a recent article suggests that gamers might actually be learning skills in their online worlds that make them great employees.

Scott F. Andrews suggested in his book The Guild Leader's Handbook (which I reviewed for TechRepublic's 2010 Geek Gift Guide) that lessons learned as an MMO guild leader or raid leader can improve performance in management roles in "real life." This concept seems to be substantiated by claims and evidence in a recent GigaOM article by Jessica Stillman entitled Do the Best Web Workers Think Like Gamers? Research in the article indicates that employees who play multiplayer online games, especially those who work remotely, will do better in the 21st century workplace than non-gamers because of the skills they learn by participating in the games.

Stillman discusses a famous 2007 speech by FedEx CIO Rob Carter and a 2009 Time interview with Carter in which he says World of Warcraft requires players to solve problems and collaborate, which are valuable skills in the workplace. She also references a 2008 article by University of Southern California scholar John Seely Brown and professor Douglas Thomas in which they outline gamers' attributes that make them attractive hires, such as interest in and comfort with diversity, change, learning, and innovation.

While all of this is great news for gamers, what does it mean for businesses? It might be a challenge for hiring managers to determine an interviewee's affinity for multiplayer online games. I like TechRepublic contributor Justin James's tongue-and-cheek suggested interview questions for making a geeky hire, but I think most Human Resource and recruiting managers would frown upon using them. Another option, though it's a tricky one, is to simply guess. TechRepublic contributor Nicole Bremer Nash suggested a method of Identify[ing] the geeks in a crowd by how they communicate, which I am itching to test out. Regardless of how you potentially search for gamers to fill the ranks at your company, the findings referenced in Stillman's article is at least worth considering the next time you have a position to fill.

What do you think about choosing gamers to fill technology or other roles at your company? Would you ever consider saying that you play World of Warcraft or some other game if asked during an interview about your hobbies? Let us know in the comments.

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(Thanks to TechRepublic's Mark Kaelin for the GigaOM article link.)

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