Maybe. We might still be a decade or two away from a time when you'll be able to talk to a potential employer about how you helped kill Arthas instead of your summer job at the mall, but we're definitely closer to that than we were a decade ago. According to a recent article from the Harvard Business Review, online games allow people to hone the same leadership skills necessary to lead tomorrow's workforce in an increasingly global and digital business environment. This bit of information probably isn't surprising for anyone who participates in the complicated and time-intensive raiding scene, but it's big news for non-gamers around the world. It's really great to see a serious academic analysis from a respected organization confirm what we had always suspected.
As an officer in a raiding guild, you're performing many activities on a daily basis which are directly applicable to a business environment: conflict resolution, organizational tasks, data tracking, long-term planning, and managerial decision-making in a fast-paced and dynamic environment. You might not even think of it that way, but it's true. In case you're not seeing the parallels, I just described the following activities: settling an argument between two guild members, planning the group composition for a raid, maintaining the DKP spreadsheet, making class recruitment decisions, and giving out orders that require a change in strategy when something goes wrong during a boss fight.
It's not just the officers who are honing their business skills, either. Every active member of a raiding guild routinely practices time management skills, conducts personal research outside of the game environment, self-manages to optimize their contribution to the group effort, learns effective communication skills, demonstrates patience and persistence in the face of adversity, and proves that they're willing to be a team player to advance the goals of the guild. These are exactly the same attributes required of business professionals in a structured work environment.
The trick with putting your game experience on your resume is knowing how to talk about it, too. Even if you're being interviewed by a gaming fan, they're not going to be impressed if you just say that you were the number one guild on your server to beat the Sunwell. They will be impressed when you cite specific examples of how being a member of a structured, organized, raid force helped you grow personally and develop skills that they find valuable. Be ready to talk about it as an exciting and fulfilling experience that required you to work as part of a tight-knit team and overcome obstacles in a shared environment.
While you might scoff at the idea of putting your raid experience on your resume, there's a real precedent for it. Especially when starting your career, before you have a lot of real work experience, you're often encouraged to include social groups or leadership opportunities that you've participated in. It goes towards the bottom of the resume with your awards and special training. Participating in a raiding guild is arguably an even more impressive experience than being a member of random social group in your local community. How many social groups require the level of dedication, commitment, and personal skill that raiding does? Not many. How many of them force you to hone the same skills required in fast-paced, online work environments? Fewer still.
Of course, like anything else you do, you're only going to get out of raiding what you put into it. Obviously, not everyone who downs a raid boss is going to be the ideal employee of tomorrow. There are plenty of people who manage to hang out in the raiding scene without developing any of the business skills or social graces mentioned in this article. You know exactly the people that I'm talking about. I guarantee you have a few in your guild. Still, if you go in with the right mindset and attitude, you've got nothing to lose and a lot to gain from hardcore raiding -- especially if you understand how to frame it correctly when it comes time to talk about it.
While it's still probably going to be a while before employers are willing to look at your gaming experience with the same weight or credibility as more traditional endeavors like volunteer work or a summer job, it probably won't hurt you to add it in, and it might even help. Think about the company you're applying to; if you think that they're pretty forward-thinking and technology friendly, try adding a small blurb like this to the bottom of your resume: "Guild Member, World of Warcraft - Participated as a member of a raiding guild over a two-year period. Consistently demonstrated punctuality, patience, good communication skills, and a team-oriented attitude to overcome shared challenges in a group setting." If the hiring manager has any familiarity with online games and you're able to talk more about your raiding experience in person, that could be an excellent way to discuss some of your positive characteristics that might not otherwise be immediately obvious.
At the very least it makes your resume a little more interesting -- it never hurts to stand out from the crowd when you're trying to get noticed.
||Cameron Sorden is an avid gamer, blogger, and writer who has been playing a wide variety of online games since the late '90s. Several times per week in Player vs. Everything, he tackles all things MMO-related. If you'd like to reach Cameron with comments or questions, you can e-mail him at cameron.sorden AT weblogsinc.com