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Game Over? Not Quite: Playing Video Games Can Help Your Career

Game Over? Not Quite: Playing Video Games Can Help Your Career
Credit: Goo Gag/Shutterstock

The next time you're looking to hire a remote employee, you should consider asking them about their video game habits, new research suggests.

A study by researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology found that "World of Warcraft" game players have skills and traits that successfully translate to working on virtual workplace teams.

"World of Warcraft" is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game. Players create their own avatars for the game and explore an almost limitless virtual landscape, fight monsters, complete quests and interact with other players. The game has more than 10 million subscribers worldwide.

The study discovered that the qualities "World of Warcraft" gamers share are extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness and neuroticism, which are the core personality traits and what psychologists refer to as the "Big Five."

Additionally, "World of Warcraft" players have the type of computer-mediated communication skills and technology-readiness skills that help employees excel when working on virtual teams. [See Related Story: 7 Jobs That Are Just Like Playing Video Games ]

The study's authors said while the correlations they uncovered between exceling at "World of Warcraft" and personality traits were small, they were statistically significant.

For the study, researchers surveyed nearly 300 "World of Warcraft" gamers who were diverse in age, race, sex, class, occupation and location. All of those surveyed played the game at least eight hours a week and worked 38 hours a week.

The survey questioned players about their motivations, communication skills, preferences for teamwork and personality.

Elizabeth Short, one of the study's authors and a graduate student at Missouri S&T, said they then compared the surveys to each player's "World of Warcraft" group achievement points, which indicate how much group gameplay they participated in, and how successful they were.

One of the greatest links the researchers uncovered was between how many achievement points a player had and their technology readiness.

Short said being technologically ready means that a person is more resilient around technology and more adaptable.

"The more achievements you have in game, the more technology savvy you are in real life," Short said in a statement. "And that’s a good thing, especially in virtual communication teams and workplaces."

Short hopes that the study will show gamers that the confidence they have playing "World of Warcraft" can be useful in their careers.

"I like the idea that there are aspects of gaming that help and strengthen a person with skills, knowledge and abilities to be able to transfer those skills into the workplace," Short said. "This research shows us that those skills, while not exactly the same … transfer."

A separate study from Robert Half Technology found that "World of Warcraft" isn't the only video game that can help boost your career. The research found that nearly one-quarter of chief information officers believe that playing video games is an activity that can increase the chances of new graduates landing an IT-related job.

Other tech-related hobbies or activities that increase recent graduates' appeal to employers include web or app development, participation in hackathons and Raspberry Pi, Arduino or microcomputer project creation.

"While there's no substitute for meaningful work experience, highlighting relevant hobbies and activities can be an effective way for new tech graduates to demonstrate their passion for the industry and impress hiring managers," John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, said in a statement.

"Aspiring technology professionals from a different field of study should make clear to potential employers how their skill sets will help them be successful in the roles they pursue."

The study, led by Nathan Weidner, an assistant professor at Missouri S&T, will be presented at this year's annual Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Conference.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.