Once considered a niche and controversial hobby by many people, video games have become a fixture in our society. As of 2020, there are approximately 3.1 billion video game users throughout the world, representing almost 40% of the global population.
As video games have advanced and become more widely used, our understanding of them has evolved as well. Despite prevalent initial concerns about their potential for causing violent behavior, more people and organizations today are recognizing the tangible real-world benefits of playing video games.
While it’s not typically considered a productive act, playing video games can help prepare you for the workplace by aiding in the development of several key professional skills. By understanding how gaming experience can relate to real-world skills, you can discover new, more engaging ways to further your career development.
Professional Skills You Can Learn Gaming
There are several transferable job skills that you can learn by playing video games. These skills are valuable for employees in many different roles and industries. In some cases, specific types of video games will be more effective for exercising certain skills. Combat or sports games are often better for improving reaction time and visual selection, while word games can help improve recall and critical thinking. It’s important to understand how the types of games you want to play relate to the skills you’re trying to develop.
Problem-solving is an essential life skill that’s useful in many different work environments. Gaming can help you improve your problem-solving abilities in several ways. Playing video games can provide you with an immersive experience that allows your brain to recover lost energy and form new connections. This can help promote problem-solving skills by stimulating creativity.
Additionally, the repetition involved in playing many video games allows you to practice learning from your mistakes and readjusting your approach to tasks in a low-stakes environment, which can help build patience and prepare you for more complicated problem-solving situations.
Multi-tasking is a common aspect of many jobs. Employees in nearly every industry are asked to perform a variety of different tasks throughout their typical workday. Demonstrating multi-tasking skills in the workplace can help you leave a strong impression on your employer and open up more opportunities for career advancement.
Effective multi-tasking often requires quick thinking and a combination of different skills. Regularly playing video games has been shown to improve several of these critical multitasking skills, including vision, focus, cognition, and reaction time.
In memory, the term ‘recall’ refers to the process of retrieving information from the past. Recall is one of the three main processes of memory, along with encoding and storage. Recall is critical for learning and applying information to real-life situations. Gaming provides a type of stimulation that can help improve recall by increasing the generation of nerve cells in key areas of the brain.
In particular, playing word games can help improve recall and other skills related to memory. Playing these games can exercise your brain’s episodic buffer, which is the area responsible for associating old knowledge with new knowledge. Real-world health benefits like these have helped contribute to the popularity of word games today.
Strategic thinking is a highly important skill that combines several different mental processes. Different types of gaming can improve strategic thinking in different ways.
Some games are entirely strategy-based. Playing these games can provide you with real strategic thinking experience by allowing you to practice formulating and testing new ideas in a low-stakes setting. Playing multiplayer strategy games can also help you gain practical experience brainstorming ideas with others and responding to feedback, which can be very beneficial in many work environments.
Puzzle games can boost strategic thinking skills by improving the executive functions in your brain. These functions correlate with abilities like decision-making and mental flexibility, both are which are highly beneficial for analyzing situations accurately and developing effective strategies.
Attention to Detail
Attention to detail is another important professional skill that can be exercised through gaming. Research has shown that playing video games can help increase brain activity and improve your visual selective attention. Visual selective attention is the brain’s ability to focus on relevant visual information while filtering out less relevant information and other distractions. It is one of the most fundamental cognitive functions in humans, and can help you more accurately identify important details in different situations.
Can You List These Skills on a Resume?
While the gaming experience itself may not be a priority to some employers, many of the skills you learn through gaming can add significant value to your resume. It’s important to be strategic when discussing these skills on your resume or cover letter, as some employers may still place a negative stigma around habitual gaming.
It’s often beneficial to focus on the skills you’ve acquired, rather than your gaming history, as many of these skills can be highly valuable in a professional setting. However, some employers may value candidates with a history of leadership in team gaming events. To identify the best way to discuss your skills, it’s critical to consider your employer’s values and the responsibilities of your desired role.
Jobs Suited for Gamers
While gamers can work in a wide variety of industries, gaming skills can be especially valuable in certain roles. Understanding how gaming skills relate to different roles can help you determine your ideal career path and find new ways to enhance your resume.
Data entry keyers can work in a variety of industries, some of their primary duties include verifying data and preparing materials for printing. Several gaming-related skills can help prepare you for a career in data entry, including multitasking, attention to detail, keyboard skills, and knowledge of software.
Aside from these skills, working in data entry usually only requires a high school diploma or general education degree (GED). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a data entry keyer is $35,630. Electronics and appliance stores are the highest paying industries for data entry keyers, with an annual mean wage of $49,740.
Research and development (R&D) specialists can work in a wide range of industries; including business, healthcare, and technology. The exact responsibilities and salary of an R&D specialist can vary heavily depending on the industry in which they work, but the term ‘R&D’ generally refers to the development of new products or services and the improvement of existing ones.
Several fundamental gaming skills can translate to R&D; including attention to detail, critical thinking, problem-solving, and tech literacy. Computer information and research scientists are among the highest paid R&D specialists, with a median annual salary of $131,490. While job growth for this career is much faster than average, finding work as a computer information and research scientist requires a master’s degree in computer science or a related field.
Programming is an essential part of computer science that involves writing instructions for machines to perform specific tasks. Programmers usually write, modify, and test scripts and programs that enable computer software and applications to function. Programmers often work in computer system design and related fields such as network administration and systems analysis.
Several key programming skills can be developed through gaming, including attention to detail, strategic thinking, recall, and problem-solving. The average annual salary for a computer programmer is $93,000. Becoming a programmer typically requires knowledge of multiple programming languages and a bachelor’s degree in programming or a related field.
Writers can work as freelancers or find employment in a variety of different sectors. The duty of writers is to develop written content, which can vary wildly depending on their specific role and employer. While it’s not necessary, a college degree in English, communications, or journalism is generally required to find full-time work as a writer. Gaming can help you develop several skills that are highly valuable for a career in writing, such as creativity, critical thinking, and mental flexibility. The median annual salary for writers and authors is $69,510.