From identifying high-demand skills, to solving training and apprenticeship problems, can video games help recruiters out of their hiring dilemmas?.
Recruiters are an inventive bunch. We always have one eye open for a new source of skills. And we’re usually keen to take on new approaches when it comes to screening and shortlisting our talent.
But, with a key demographic shift impacting our labourforce, eBoss asks: are we ignoring a valuable talent pipeline?
That pipeline – if you haven’t already guessed – is video gaming.
Everyday life for today’s candidates
Video games are big business. They are now the most profitable form of entertainment on the planet. Total gaming earnings eclipse global television rights – which includes streaming services like Netflix as well as traditional broadcast channels. For males under the age of thirty, they are the primary form of entertainment.
That’s right: the likes of Super Mario and Candy Crush are bigger bucks than Game of Thrones, Premier League Football, Bake-Off and Stranger Things combined.
Movies and music do not even begin to compete. With a gross annual profit of $116bn in 2018, gaming beats films ($41bn) and record sales ($17bn) put together.
It is strange, then, that the industry is still not taken seriously – or even dismissed out of hand – by so many in other sectors.
Should recruiters care?
Of course, you may be asking to what degree you should even care about what your candidates get up to in their spare time.
It might be a useful insight of a candidate’s soft skills if they are able to demonstrate (for example) sports leadership, or a compassionate ear from volunteer work.
But video gaming? Surely not. After all, there aren’t many employers who would hire based on which books a candidate has read. So why should gaming be of any interest?
But this is to misunderstand the fundamental difference between gaming and other forms of passive media. With some games, young professionals are learning skills which transfer directly into the jobs market. And smart recruiters are getting qise to this.
It is called gamification. And it is an area of work and enterprise management that has already drawn interest from some recruiters.
Are virtual apprenticeships already a possibility?
There is another level to the “gaming-as-training” genre of games, too. One that is almost surreal in its mundanity.
In games like the Euro Truck Simulator or Farming Simulator series, players learn the ropes of working in specific area of heavy industry.
And let’s be very clear on this: these are full, virtual reality experiences. You can plough a field and change which crops to sow for higher yields in Farming Simulator.
Ever wanted to drive an articulated lorry from Aberdeen to Strasbourg, in real time? Of course you have. Well, now you can.
In these ‘logistics simulators’, no detail is ignored.
You negotiate a loan to cover the initial costs of fixed assets. You balance risk and reward with high cost / high yield ventures or plug away at a slow-but-steady concern.
Unpredictable variables (such as climate) will inform your decisions; your decisions impact your results. The only difference between them and the real world is that all your earnings are make believe.
Remarkably, these franchises have proven to be massively popular.
Do virtual skills really translate into the real world of work?
The key question is: can any of this really work? It is one thing to master skills in the no-risk digital realm, but do virtual skills translate into real work?
Increasingly, they do. Whether it is in the creation of new roles for gamers, or transferring skills gained through games into existing roles, there is a growing appetite for hiring top players.
English football club West Ham United recently hired an esports gamer to play as part of their virtual team.
And, in a widely shared Linkedin post, one Gartner expert explained his delight when an interviewee listed the leadership qualities they had gained from running a guild in World of Warcraft.
One of the comments mentions an incident where a US airport baggage handler stole and flew an airliner, using only skills he learned from video games.
While a rather dark example of what gamers can learn about professional skills, it demonstrates how civilians are acquiring professional skills through the affordable, independent gamification of learning.