Video gamers get a bad rap. Adjectives like lazy, immature, violent, and intellectually sedated might come to mind when describing stereotypical video game geeks.
If someone mentions their obsession with video games- especially during an interview or onboarding routine- it might raise a red flag, and perhaps be indicative of a bad hire. But according to recent studies, video gamers could be quicker learners, more career-oriented, extra creative and socially-inclined. Don’t believe me? See the evidence below.
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Gamers Are Quicker Learners
A new study featured in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reveals that people who play action-oriented games like Call of Duty or World of Warcraft showed a higher capacity to learn than those who play non-action games.
When tested a year later, the players’ maintained their improvements. Gamers who play action games (in comparison to those that play like, Oregon Trail) are constantly forced to predict what will happen next in order to respond correctly. Video games build these predicting skills.
We can’t claim direct correlation between this specific study and employee success, but hiring a quick learner is always a good idea, especially if you have multiple platforms and operating systems that employees use daily. Likewise, looking for candidates with strong predictive and strategic skills could be great for positions in sales, management, and customer service.
Gamers Are Good At Math, Technology and Engineering
Uttal et al., the masterminds behind a recent meta-analysis, found that gamers who play ‘shooter’ games enhance their spatial skills. These skills can be acquired through video games in a short period of time, but the effects are long-lasting. In fact, the effects of playing video games are equal to high school and university level classes that produce the same spatial skills.
Such skills are associated with achievement in math, technology, and engineering. What does this have to do with hiring the right employee? Spatial skills affect STEM-related subjects, and success in these areas of expertise are often linked to long-term career success. So contrary to the time-wasting stereotype, gamers might be more career-oriented than most.
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Gamers Are Creative
Creativity shouldn’t just be a requirement for art-related positions. Engineers, accountants, HR managers should all have a creative flair to help push your business forward. Creative people find new solutions to problems, ask the right questions, have enthusiasm and can view situations from different points of view.
If a candidate has a past (or current) fascination with Mario Kart, there’s a good chance he or she is creative too. In 2012, Jackson et al. found that video game playing was positively correlated with creativity in children- more so than with other forms of technology.
Gamers Might Be More Optimistic
Hiring a happy employee isn’t rocket science. Having a Negative Nancy on your team does nothing but slow you down. That’s why you might want to hire a gamer geek. In fact, researchers strongly suggest gaming may be among the most effective way to generate positive feelings in children and youth. But what about working adults?
Studies found that playing puzzle video games can improve players’ moods, help relaxation, and decrease anxiety. Why? Some psychologists believe that video games don’t allow time for rumination and bad thoughts (i.e. there’s no time to dwell on past mistakes. Forward and adaptation is all the player knows).
Gamers Are Social (Believe it or Not)
Despite the general typecast, video gamers aren’t loners. Over 70% of gamers play with friends. Some researchers suggest games like World of Warcraft and Farmville require socializing to move the game forward, and they believe these learned social skills could be transferred to real-world situations- like in the office. They even found that playing a violent game cooperatively, rather than competitively, led to prosocial, cooperative behavior off-screen.