I’ve been a fan of video games as far back as I can remember. I’ve spent countless hours — probably more than I should admit — in front of the TV or computer screen on adventures. While this is one of my favorite pastimes, I’ve often wondered if playing video games is helpful in the professional world. I’ve looked into this and have found that most people agree: Gamers are valuable assets IRL (In Real Life)!

Many studies have made the link between playing video games and improved hand-eye coordination. In “Video games sharpen eye-hand coordination skills: Study” by Robin Burks (Tech Times), it’s suggested “…playing action video games regularly helps gamers learn new sensorimotor skills, especially eye and hand coordination.” And the benefits extend beyond that. According to “Playing Video Games Could Actually Change Your Brain – But Not in a Bad Way” by Rachel Nuwer (Smithsonian.com), “…gaming is sort of like weight lifting for the brain” and “despite video games’ bad rep, they might improve a person’s strategizing and multi-tasking abilities.”

While these are all important and desired skills, what about the social aspect of the equation? Even the most skilled employees need to learn how to fit in at work. 

As a long-time player of “World of Warcraft,” I can speak to one of the main constants of gaming — the sense of community. There are a handful of people who play MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) on a solo level, but most players join to be part of something bigger. While I enjoy slaying ogres and collecting loot as much as the next gal, what brings me back to the game night after night are the people. Our cobbled together guild of “real-life” friends, family, friends of friends, friends’ coworkers, and online acquaintances from across the U.S. and Canada, have come together to accomplish great feats of strength. It’s quite amazing to think that one common interest of success in Azeroth, can bring people together across so many divides.

While that’s all warm and fuzzy, how does being part of a guild relate to the professional world? As noted in “Can ‘World of Warcraft’ Game Skills Help Land a Job?” by Adam Reubenfire (The Wall Street Journal), “Gamers’ ability to accomplish complex tasks across virtual teams could be seen as a plus for some companies.”

Running a guild takes leadership, organization, patience, and coordinating the wants and needs of a diverse team. Along with leading a successful group, guild leaders need to provide a positive environment that encourages members to log on frequently, as well as entice new members to join. All these skills can be related to most work situations. The Wall Street Journal article states, “Gamers thrive at firms like IBM, where employees must collaborate with colleagues anywhere in the world, often without having met in person.” Many guild leaders manage groups (sometimes in the hundreds), without knowing much more than a screen name, and what class and style of play a gamer possesses. And it’s not all about leadership either. Guild members can contribute by researching and sharing knowledge, designing websites, creating logos, or just by helping other members down that pesky dragon.

The next time you dismiss the value of video games, remember that by playing you could be sharpening skills that lead to advancing your career or building friendships that last a lifetime. So, brush up on your gamer speak, and L2P! (Learn to Play!).

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