A new study finds that playing the video game World of Warcraft can help employees thrive when working on virtual teams.
Video games are often thought to be a parent’s worst nightmare, but if you are an avid gamer, you can turn the nightmare into a lucrative career.
All it takes to turn video gaming into a career is to have a desire to be creative, an interest in computer science and the will to create a video game that will become a hit among gamers.
Whether you are someone who is constantly doodling or someone who prefers to sit in front of a monitor for hours playing your favorite video game, there are many career options in the field of video games.
The next time you're looking to hire a remote employee, you should consider asking them about their video game habits, 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 excelling 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," said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, 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.
Types of video game jobs
One of the most common statements parents say to their children is "sitting in front of video games all day will not help you later in life." As it turns out, playing video games may lead some people to very rewarding careers. The video game industry has changed dramatically over the years, and modern video games are quite technical and interactive. If you are a dedicated gamer and are considering a career related to video games, there are several options to choose from.
Artist or animator
Video games need characters that can come to life, so if you have a sketchbook packed with drawings of characters, these sketches can be turned into animation for video games. This type of career is ideal for graphic designers, artists and doodlers. This type of career generally requires a degree in graphic design, game design and/or computer science.
If you are more of a game player than a game designer, then having a job as a game tester may be the ideal choice for you. Game testers, also known as beta testers, are responsible for testing games before they released. You will be responsible for detecting problems with the game, such as glitches, bugs, artistic flaws and to "break" the game. You are a good fit for this type of job if you enjoy spending several hours a day playing a video game, are a team player and dedicated to making sure video games are public ready. To become a game tester, it's helpful to have a degree in computer science, experience in quality assurance, and game playing and hacking.
Having a career as a game developer is thought to be the ultimate job for avid gamers. As a game developer, you are responsible for making your own games, either with your ideas or by taking the ideas of others and turning them into a game that every gamer will want to play. To be a good fit for this type of job you are typically interested in coding, computer programming and video games in general.
A coveted job for those who love playing video games is being a professional gamer. It is possible to make money playing video games, if you are extremely talented and/or entertaining. Competitive gamers can make money through a variety of ways, such as creating a YouTube channel, which allows you to earn money depending on the number of followers you have, or you could enter competitions, where you play with people from around the world for a chance at taking home the prize.