I was inspired to write this article after reading something very similar on Wowinsider a few weeks ago by Robbin Torres. Here is the link to her article if anyone wants to check that out.
I’ve joked about this concept for years, but as I’ve grown older I think I’m starting to believe it more and more. What am I talking about? Gaming achievements and experiences that could be transferred to the work place or a C.V when applying for a job. Wait, wait, wait, I am not a complete moron and I know how outright ghastly that previous statement might appear to many of you. I am also aware that a lot of people will now assume I am a buffoon rivaling the levels of stupidity only manageable by Boris Johnson. I’m not, well, not most of the time anyway. Let me try to vindicate this somewhat optimistic viewpoint. I should probably add that all of this will be about my World of Warcraft experiences so if you’re a WoW hater please look away now.
Picture this: I fumble my way into a suit slightly too large for me, a suit that has a ‘clearly not worn often’ appearance while also managing to look as if it has probably sat in a cupboard for a number of years. I remind myself how to tie a tie by watching videos on YouTube and the end result is nothing short of “that’ll do”. I expertly cover the rip in the seam, located at the hip of my interview trousers, that I blatantly forgot I had created at the last failed interview experience, by a convenient placing of my hand. So dressed to impress, I confidently stroll into the interview room and am faced with a rather portly man with a camp Scottish accent stinking of his own self-importance. The sort of importance that can only occur when you’re not a very important person yet you believe you have found someone lower in the shit on chain than you.
So the interview begins and once the vomit inducing pleasantries are out of the way, followed by a ten minute one way conversation on how said interviewer had achieved his current post; a conversation that could have been swiftly summarised as “I licked a lot of arse”, the questions commence. “Give me an example where you have worked as part of a team that has encountered a difficult situation. How did you work together to overcome this issue? and, if any, what sort of leading role did you take to overcome the problem?” Well… lets call him David, he looked like David. Well David, for the past year I have been involved in a small, close-knit raiding guild in the popular online game World of Warcraft.
With a small group of friends we slowly built up our guild from scratch on a popular server where competition for members was fierce. All was going very well; our hard work and dedication to the cause provided us with a small but growing base of loyal members and although we lacked a deep pool of talent, we made up for it with our organisation, patience and great team work. Bosses were vanquished at commendable rates until we eventually stumbled into a dragon. Not just any kind of dragon, David, an undead dragon. This beautiful beast tore through our army of 10 like we were mere insects.
For days and weeks on end we stumbled into its lair only to meet with the same fate of disappointment and death. We tried multiple tactics, group compositions and role changes. Seemingly nothing was ever going to work, or so we thought. As our band of 10 heroes grew gradually stronger and our leaders identified the groups individuals strengths and weaknesses, we slowly forged a tactic that would see us overcome our nemesis. After a couple of weeks we had taken a group of 10 people into a fight that was impossible for us and turned our fortunes around to see us leaving his lair with our heads held high and some phat loot to boot. David looks at me like I’m a fucking idiot.
Why exactly am I such an idiot? I should probably add that although the above tale is heavily based on real life events, I did not in fact spill some old guild stories to a pompous interviewer. But why not? Fair enough, maybe not in such an over dramatised fashion. That should not detract from the fact that when playing certain games like World of Warcraft, especially when leading a raiding guild, there are skills that are transferable to the working environment. Lets take a look at a few then you can decide whether I’m still an idiot.
I will start with a ‘biggy’ because it is fairly central to the experiences I had with World of Warcaft.
One of the most important things to understand is that people are stupid. Whenever a large collection of people get together to work towards a common goal there will always be chaos unless there is someone at the top of the pile sending down instructions. I’ve had conversations with lots of non-WoW players in the past about leading a guild and they all seem to have the same expression on their faces as if it doesn’t really matter, it’s not really significant and how hard can it be, right? It is after all just a game. Leading a raiding guild was one of the most time-consuming, stressful and energy sapping experiences I have had in my life and I’m sure many of you can relate to this. Quite often you will be dealing with 30, 40, 50 people, some Gm’s will deal with far more than this. Not just any people either, people who can hide behind a character and can act as irresponsible or unreliable as they like.
What we did in our first guild was aim to build a community. We created an active forum and encouraged people to get involved with the project. We set up a body of rules from generic things like time keeping to more specific in-game requirements. Players had to research raid tactics before a specific nights gaming. We had a relatively in-depth application process for and would-be players wanting to join our ranks that was considered and responded to in a professional manner as possible. Various amounts of power were delegated to different officers that had their own layer of responsibility in maintaining the success of the guild: roles like recruitment, raid leadership or bank management. As any none WoW player with probably gather, it involves a lot more than switching a computer on and killing some monsters.
Say hypothetically a young person, maybe late teens, has been to college or started University and is looking for a new job. Why exactly shouldn’t that person be able to reference the mass managing or leading a group of individuals multiple times a week for many hours. How many of that persons peers would be able to cite similar skills? I’m sure if the same person was in charge of arranging a local 5-a-side football tournament on a regular basis that it would be looked at in a positive light so why not if the game is World of Warcraft and the location is on the internet rather than a leisure centre?
Another major factor that should be taken into consideration is organisation and time management. As many of you will appreciate, organisation is paramount to the long-term success of a raiding guild. Such a role will include: what nights and times people will meet, keeping a check on the number of participants to ensure the raid goes ahead and you aren’t ruining 15 other people’s plans, making sure there is a plan B when someone inevitably drops you in it without warning. A lot of people underestimate how difficult it can be to simply organise raids with the correct composition of players. You constantly have to be aware of the activity of your members, whether people have signed up for raids and whether the guild has the correct number of tanks, healers and dps to fill the adequate roles.
Do you know how hard it is to manage this number of people into a cohesive group that often requires quite complex tactics. Even when the tactics are as simple as don’t stand in the fire, you would undoubtedly need to be instructing someone not to do it as well as ensuring you’re doing your own job.
When raiding with 10 or 25 other people a Ventrilo server can become quite rowdy, especially if you have a number of large characters within your guild. It’s your job as a raid leader to brings things under control. From experience you will constantly be coordinating the tactics to certain members, reminding the raid on what should or shouldn’t be doing. If things aren’t going so well it’s your job to try to boost morale or chastise anyone not pulling their weight. Often things will go wrong and tactics will change mid-battle, those others players will be looking at you to instruct them what to do and how to do it.
You’re gaining hands on communications experience by leading a vast number of people and it will certainly be something that will stand a person in good stead when going into the working world.
I understand that the perception of gamers by non-gamers is the image of a sweaty overweight teenage boy who spends all day in his bedroom and lacks anything that resembles a hint of a social skill when faced with a real life problem. I don’t doubt these people exist, but I’ve met far more who do not meet the stereotype. During my first spell of leading in raiding guild I was into my final year of university. I spent the first hour of every day dealing with issues on our forum and arranging events for the weeks ahead and I’d be raiding last thing at night. All while managing to maintain a high work load at university, make time for my home and family life. Every hour of every day was arranged and accounted for to enable the highest productive outcome. I understand that this skill will be completed passed by if an individual whose life is only online on a game like WoW, but why shouldn’t this be looked at in a positive light if that person also maintains an active lifestyle? It would be hard to argue that they haven’t gained time management skills from doing it.
I think I will end my ramblings there. And I haven’t even mentioned the accountancy and marketing skills you could acquire when dealing with guild funds and stock, or the market experience you acquire when trying to make money by manipulating the auction house. I’d be lying it I said I gained those though; I don’t think selling things for the cheapest price going counts.
Am I seriously suggesting that you should all break out your C.V and include your experiences from World of Warcraft in your next job search? Well, No. But that isn’t because the skills you have acquired aren’t valid, because they most certainly are. It’s because a large portion of the population are ignorant to a wide variety of subjects related to gaming, particularly in relation to games like World of Warcraft. Even when arguing that the skills are effectively the same to my beautiful ball and chain her response was “it’s not though really, is it?” Ignorance.
To quote Neri
“Whether you’re a player or a hater of World of Warcraft, I think it’s pretty ignorant to openly dismiss these skills that are developed through the game.”
Well, am I still and idiot? Does anyone agree with my perspective? I’d appreciate any feed back from any WoW players and none WoW players. Are there any other games out there where you could argue this point from a similar perspective?
Leave your feedback in the comments.