Mixed Signals On The Value Of World Of Warcraft In Moving Up The Corporate Ladder

from the depends-on-who-you-talk-to dept

Just a few weeks ago, the NY Times had a blog post talking about how some recruiters were telling World of Warcraft players to avoid mentioning their gaming on resumes, as many employers were telling recruiters to avoid gamers, on the theory they “cannot give 100 percent because their focus is elsewhere [and] their sleeping patterns are often not great…” Of course, in different companies, you get very different views on that same subject — and CIO magazine is running a profile of Starbucks’ new CIO, where they actually play up the fact that he was “one of the top guildmasters” in the online game. In fact, those who have worked with him note that his experiences in WoW have given him more leadership ability than the MBA he also happens to have. So, for the WoW gamers out there who despaired after reading the NY Times article, perhaps just go looking for a different type of company.

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Comments on “Mixed Signals On The Value Of World Of Warcraft In Moving Up The Corporate Ladder”

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SteveD says:


I used to include ‘E-sports’ on my CV at the very end with general interests. Its good if your short on practical experience (or spent all of University playing MMO’s). You’ve just got to phrase things in recruiter-speak and hope the guy who interviews you is open-minded.

I’d like to think that gaming does give you transferable skills, especially if your involved in society management (leadership, teamwork, recruiting, training, conflict resolution etc.), but real-world examples of these things would always sound better.

PaulT (profile) says:

Anyone who rejects a candidate simply because they list WoW among their interests is an idiot. It’s a game with over 11 million players worldwide, and is a great way of interacting with friends you wouldn’t otherwise get to see IRL. It’s far more productive in some ways that watching TV or reading a book. Someone in charge of a successful guild is proving a number of skills relating to organisation and leadership that can be vital in today’s multinational industries, where you don’t always get to see the people you’re working with.

Having said that, a diverse CV is important to anyone applying for any job. If your CV lists WoW among a number of other activities, it can be a bonus to an open-minded employer. If your CV basically states that you have no life outside of WoW, it’s a negative.

Some Non-WoWer says:

Re: Re:

I’ve never played WoW but I know 11 million people does not equal 11 million leaders, and I estimate that the number of guild leaders are a lot fewer. So the overall problem I have is the credibility of someone who would list being a WoW leader. While technically that shouldn’t be less credible than saying “I run a local club,” what it comes down to is proof. Surely there would be some non-verbal signs of telling if someone has leadership (how someone carries him or herself) but there are always good actors too.

I run a FPS group of about 40 people but it’s not the only way I demonstrate leadership. I think there are better alternatives than listing “FPS Leader” as a qualification for leadership.

WowLeader says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes you shouldn’t just take someone on their word alone when looking at their CV/Resumé. But I wouldn’t have any reason to doubt that they lied about their MBA than I would that they lied about being a WoW leader. You want proof? It’s simple, you ask them what they’ve learned as a WoW leader, what are their typical leadership duties, how they manage conflicts, etc. Ask for specific examples of how they’ve exemplified leadership in the game. Sure, they can lie and answer based on their understanding of a roommate/friend’s experience as a leader — but if they’ve learned the lessons and can communicate effectively the leadership experiences/roles, then they’ve got some knowledge of the job.

I don’t agree that you have to be a guild leader to be a leader either. Most guilds rely on a half dozen or more active leaders. Often the guild leader needs less technical/soft skills than the raid leader. I’d wager a strong guild is comprised of at least a dozen people with leadership skills that are exhibited in one way (picking people to form balanced, successful groups) or another (posting useful info/feedback/comments to the guild forum).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Idiots

If you don’t have years of experience in exactly the position they are offering (in which case you would be already bored and ready for promotion), if you are a generalist with working knowledge of a range of topics but no deep knowledge of their little piece of the universe, if you are female, or old, modest, refuse to inflate your resume, or any number of things, they don’t want to consider you. HR departments don’t find candidates anymore, they just find ways to prevent hires or at least paper where they sit so no one can accuse them of discrimination or hiring a loser. They want to point to the paperwork and say “See. Their documentation is what we were looking for so don’t blame me if they can’t do the job.”
I doubt that one’s amusements have a place on a resume unless your hobby is developing some product related to the position.
On the other hand, the organizational and leadership qualities required to be a successful Raid Leader or Guild Master might count for something as would being the chairman of a Science Fiction Convention, yet the topic of these activities raises prejudice.
I wonder if one would be faulted for mentioning they started, organized, and ran a Scout troop, homeless shelter, service association?

Dav says:

why not?

I listed my experiance as admin, and in devolpment of zones on the game continuum on my CV.

Use of online gaming on a CV can be good provided you do it for the right reasons.

Im my case i wanted to show that I am skilled with IT and capable of performing some quite complex tasks.

Just because I have mentiond it. Continuum can be downloaded from http://www.getcontinuum.com

Kevin says:

as many employers were telling recruiters to avoid gamers, on the theory they “cannot give 100 percent because their focus is elsewhere [and] their sleeping patterns are often not great…”

I always thought the argument was a bit silly, as the same could be said for someone with a family, especially newborn children. Or a hardcore sports fanatic (watching all those late west coast games really cuts into east coast sleeping time). Or anyone with any outside interests at all. Let’s face it, anything can become an obsession, and the one thing that is probably least likely to be an obsession is work.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The biggest problem with that statement is that it assumes that all gamers are obsessive. I personally think of myself as a gamer, but I rarely spent more than 10 hours per week playing games. I know people who spend more time watching soaps or cooking than that, but no employer’s going to suggest that those people should be looked down on becuase their focus is “elsewhere”…

Any tired cliche surrounding gamers is simply that – a tired cliche. To suggest that the 174 million gamers in the US alone (according to NPD’s findings) are somehow less responsible than the other half of the population is pretty disingenuous.

Gunnar says:

There’s a pretty big difference between playing WOW and running a guild on WOW.

My roommate developed the inventory management system for one of his guilds and would organize and lead raids, which is impressive because a lot of morons play WOW, and it takes a good leader to make those morons useful. That skill is something any smart guy in a management position can appreciate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: please!

College degrees are important because they open doors for you. That’s it. It is highly important to develop skills in areas that you plan to work on for the rest of your life. You want to be a programmer? start programming something! anything! Want to be an electrical engineer? Build your own RC car!

I agree that you cannot ignore college (like I did) but you cannot ignore developing real world skills and achievements independent of school (like I did!)

PaulT (profile) says:

“So the overall problem I have is the credibility of someone who would list being a WoW leader.”

As a matter of interest, why would that be? It’s fairly common (in Europe, anyway) to list some examples of hobbies and outside activities on your CV/resume. If I’m applying for a tech-related job, I make sure I list a few examples of things relevant to the job that I spend some of my unpaid time doing, but don’t get to demonstrate in my current role (such as running Linux servers and building PCs).

If mention of the WoW guild is relevant to the role (e.g. a role that requires communication and organisation among a geographically dispersed team), and all else is equal in the interview, why would *this* particular hobby lose a person credibility in your eyes? I can understand it if a person doesn’t have any other skills, or their CV lists WoW as their primary achievement, but that’s not we’re talking about here. We’re talking about people being told that, despite having many other skills, their choice to play WoW in their spare time is a negative trait.

Anonymous Coward says:

I always put gamer in my resume under hobbies. Painting, cooking, online gamer, classic board game enthusiast. Got my future employers talking about that. Although my jobs have been IT related or becoming a programmer so putting these things down showed I was just like the other guys you have on a team. The resume talks about you, if you are an avid computer gamer you probably are only going to be happy working with other avid gamers.

eztrigger says:

I used to play all the time… I think that CIO is in a special boat because of his level in the company. Lower level job candidates are going to rule out a bunch of good companies (yes, i agree they shouldn’t discriminate on you personal habits, but they do… c’este la vi). Why limit your companies. Just leave WoW off the resume, get a good job, and play at home!

Gunnar says:

“Why limit your companies. Just leave WoW off the resume, get a good job, and play at home!”

Putting it on every resume is probably going to hurt half the time and help the other half, ending in a wash.

That’s why you tailor your resume/cover letter/interview to each job you’re applying for. My boss is a huge comic book fan. I never thought a working knowledge of the Marvel universe would have helped me on a job interview, but here I am.

Leisure Guy says:

WoW sucks out your soul

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE I know who has ever gotten involved with WOW plays it to the point of obsessive/compulsive. They are addicted to it and cannot stop. Their lives revolve around this stupid game. These friends play it ALL the time and then they wonder why they can’t keep a job, or when they do manage to get a job, wonder why they are constantly getting singled out as bad employees by management.

WoW is a bad influence and I would not put it on a resume unless the job I was applying for was directly in the gaming industry.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: WoW sucks out your soul

So, what’s more likely? That every one of the 11+ million players worldwide is a hopeless addict, or you you just happen to know a lot of people with no self-control abilities? Maybe you should be looking at the company you keep rather than the game…

I personally play WoW 2 or 3 nights a week for a couple of hours each time. I have no self-control problems, and I know people who spend more time cooking or drawing than I spend in-game. It’s been a couple of years since I needed to use a copy of my CV, but I wouldn’t have a problem mentioning WoW on there. For a start it would help root out the stupid, reactionary and biased employers from the ones I would actually consider working for. A company that would reject a candidate based on a harmless extra-curricular hobby isn’t one I would want to work for.

One question for everyone who thinks differently: if a person listed Counterstrike, soap operas, playing in a band, poker or live role-playing in their list of hobbies, would you be similarly dismissive of that person? Are all time-consuming hobbies the target of your ire, or just WoW?

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t see why there is any reason at all that they should list World of Warcraft (or any MMORPG or game for that matter) on a resume to begin with. It’s absolutely irrelevant to anything and everything.

And if you have to get your leadership chops that way, then maybe you should be focusing on other areas to get some real world experience. Spending all of your time focusing on a game that has absolutely no relevance to anyone of any real character (yes, all WoW gamers can suck it) is not going to bode well for your work ethic. I’ve seen it time and time and time and time again.

It never fails.

IT Dude says:


I can’t stand being in the same room as a WOW player. It seems they all have this inability to not shut up about their lvl 80 even though everyone else in the room is looking at them and thinking “Shut up or I will shove my Cenarion Boot (157 Armor +13 Intellect +15 Spirit +16 Stamina +7 Shadow Resistance) down your throat.

Xiera says:


I mentioned playing computer games (though I didn’t mention WoW in particular) during my interview as a demonstration of how I enjoy strategy, planning, and design. Apparently, the interviewers agreed that this is important for a software developer, and I have worked happily for the company ever since.

But, yeah, in a world where many computer/video games are demonised by “pop” society, it can be difficult to convey the more positive aspects of playing — often involving teamwork, team management, strategy, adaptability, attention to detail, etc.

chris (profile) says:

who the hell mentions games on their resume?

i barely have room on two pages for my military service, why would you mention video games for anything other than a video game related position?

if you ask me, running a guild qualifies you to be a leader about as much as owning a cat qualifies you to be a nurse. most guild leaders i have met are just lightning rods for the incessant whining, complaining, and needless drama that comes from groups of people with nothing better to do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: who the hell mentions games on their resume?

Why are you limiting your resume to two pages? A resume should be as big as it needs to be for the relevant content; any arbitrary size limitation is a bad idea as it will leave clear gaps to the astute recruiter. Too big is also bad, but if you actively play games, and learn from them by exercising your critical thinking, strategy, and reaction time… then it should be on the resume.

blackangel8k (user link) says:

Strategy games open your mind???

I’m finishing my university, I work full time I have another work and play on line, of course sleep is not a priority, but I played WOW, Silkroad, Ogame and like 4 more on line games in the past 6 years, and after that I played prince in dos, and Atari and pong, I played magic, go and D&D, in fact some of the problems my real life were solved with strategic solution that I learn playing, playing on line is not the problem the control is the problem, I have friends who are addicted to WOW Rojhan, just named and they played it, but not all the people is like that, if you have self control you learn a lot and have a lot of fun, its true the on line games open your mind, the problem is only not to get addicted to it, honestly if I’m searching for IT people and they put in they resume “I play WOW I’m a 78th level retribution paladin” I will know a lot of thing of him just with that, and if he is going to be 18 hours fighting db error better, he has the correct attitude for the job, most IT works need that freak attitude.

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