Attracting talent with all the tech or hard skills you need represents just about any industry’s greatest pain point. But those are teachable. What’s harder are those employable skills that correlate with a human’s dynamic capacity to feel and respond. And contrary to the stereotype, those who game represent an untapped pool with such skills that are going overlooked. Esports journalist, Travis Gafford, vehemently refutes what many of us are thinking. “Gamers,” he attests, “are not antisocial basement-dwellers. They’re leaders, entrepreneurs, and visionaries.” There’s no question that games promote problem solving, presenting players with a variety of challenges and obstacles that they must overcome in order to progress. But empathy? Adaptability? How can an autonomous, predominantly dextrous pastime nurture an employable suite of people skills that rely on, well, people?
According to global VR director, Chris Milk, “Video games are the ultimate empathy machines.” When interacting with other characters, creatures, or cultures in an immersive gaming experience, players gain a perspective and understanding for circumstances different than their own, and in a safe environment with more opportunities for exploration than in real life. MIT’s Ilya Vedrashka takes this sentiment even further and states, “video games are the closest thing we have to a universal language.”
2. Time Management
Time management games represent its own, popular genre of casual video games focused on fast, real-time allocation of resources to fulfill specific game objectives in a specific order. These games often assume actual work simulation themes, where the player is required to manage a business. The 1983 arcade game Tapper is the prototypical time management game, where the player is a bartender who has to serve patrons before their patience expires. Reacting to incoming requests during play and serving them in the most effective manner yields the greatest rewards. It does in real life, too.
Games can be unpredictable, and players must be able to adapt to changing circumstances in order to succeed. The importance of flexibility, resilience, and perseverance are all a player has on their resume in games, as the who-you-knows, or what school you went to holds no value in a player’s success trajectory. Because of this, award-winning game developer, Jane McGonigal goes on to add, “Gamers always believe that an epic win is possible and that it’s always worth trying, and trying now.”
Rockefeller himself went as far as putting a higher value on people skills than a purchasable commodity. “I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than for anything under the sun.” Today, the US Department of Labor agrees, claiming that soft skills are even more important than the 3 R’s (reading, writing, and arithmetic). They’re also agnostic, applicable to every industry. As employers are starved for talent today, perhaps adding ‘gaming’ to a desired skill set will yield a more employable candidate. Considering 90% of your future workforce classifies themselves as gamers, your hirable talent pool may have just gotten a lot bigger.
What soft skill do you value most in an employee?